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Dev Genes Evol. 2003 Dec;213(12):625-30. Epub 2003 Nov 8.

Up-regulation of neural stem cell markers suggests the occurrence of dedifferentiation in regenerating spinal cord.

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Developmental Biology Unit, Institute of Child Health, UCL, London WC1N 1EH, UK.


Following tail amputation in urodele amphibians, an ependymal tube, that resembles a developing neural tube, forms from ependymal cells that migrate from the cord stump and elongates by cell proliferation. Expression of the keratin pair 8 and 18 has been observed in the developing urodele nervous system and is maintained in the ependymal cells of the mature cord. We show here that expression of these keratins is not unique to urodeles, but is also observed in the radial glia of the human spinal cord, suggesting that these proteins might play a role both in neural development and regeneration. Analysis of their expression in the regenerating spinal cord following tail amputation shows that their expression, as well as that of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), is maintained in the ependymal tube during regeneration, though differences in their levels of expression are observed along the anteroposterior axis and appear to be related to the progression of morphogenesis. In addition, we show that following tail amputation the ependymal tube expresses the neural stem cell markers nestin and vimentin, which are undetectable in normal urodele spinal cord. This up-regulation of neural stem cell markers shows that the ependymal cells undergo a phenotypic change. Whereas maintenance of keratin and GFAP expression in the adult ependyma may reflect a higher plasticity of these cells in adult urodeles than in other vertebrates, re-expression of markers of early neural development suggests the occurrence of a dedifferentiation process in the spinal cord in response to injury.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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