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Dev Biol. 2003 Sep 1;261(1):165-82.

Global analysis of gene expression in neural progenitors reveals specific cell-cycle, signaling, and metabolic networks.

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Department of Neurology, UCLA School of Medicine, 710 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1769, USA.


The genetic programs underlying neural stem cell (NSC) proliferation and pluripotentiality have only been partially elucidated. We compared the gene expression profile of proliferating neural stem cell cultures (NS) with cultures differentiated for 24 h (DC) to identify functionally coordinated alterations in gene expression associated with neural progenitor proliferation. The majority of differentially expressed genes (65%) were upregulated in NS relative to DC. Microarray analysis of this in vitro system was followed by high throughput screening in situ hybridization to identify genes enriched in the germinal neuroepithelium, so as to distinguish those expressed in neural progenitors from those expressed in more differentiated cells in vivo. NS cultures were characterized by the coordinate upregulation of genes involved in cell cycle progression, DNA synthesis, and metabolism, not simply related to general features of cell proliferation, since many of the genes identified were highly enriched in the CNS ventricular zones and not widely expressed in other proliferating tissues. Components of specific metabolic and signal transduction pathways, and several transcription factors, including Sox3, FoxM1, and PTTG1, were also enriched in neural progenitor cultures. We propose a putative network of gene expression linking cell cycle control to cell fate pathways, providing a framework for further investigations of neural stem cell proliferation and differentiation.

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