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J Cell Biol. 2003 Apr 14;161(1):169-86. Epub 2003 Apr 7.

Postnatal NG2 proteoglycan-expressing progenitor cells are intrinsically multipotent and generate functional neurons.

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Center for Neuroscience Research, Children's Research Institute, Children's National Medical Center, Washington, DC 20010-2970, USA.


Neurogenesis is known to persist in the adult mammalian central nervous system (CNS). The identity of the cells that generate new neurons in the postnatal CNS has become a crucial but elusive issue. Using a transgenic mouse, we show that NG2 proteoglycan-positive progenitor cells that express the 2',3'-cyclic nucleotide 3'-phosphodiesterase gene display a multipotent phenotype in vitro and generate electrically excitable neurons, as well as astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. The fast kinetics and the high rate of multipotent fate of these NG2+ progenitors in vitro reflect an intrinsic property, rather than reprogramming. We demonstrate in the hippocampus in vivo that a sizeable fraction of postnatal NG2+ progenitor cells are proliferative precursors whose progeny appears to differentiate into GABAergic neurons capable of propagating action potentials and displaying functional synaptic inputs. These data show that at least a subpopulation of postnatal NG2-expressing cells are CNS multipotent precursors that may underlie adult hippocampal neurogenesis.

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