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Dev Biol. 2003 Dec 15;264(2):309-22.

Neural progenitor genes. Germinal zone expression and analysis of genetic overlap in stem cell populations.

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Interdepartmental Program for Neuroscience, UCLA, School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


The identification of the genes regulating neural progenitor cell (NPC) functions is of great importance to developmental neuroscience and neural repair. Previously, we combined genetic subtraction and microarray analysis to identify genes enriched in neural progenitor cultures. Here, we apply a strategy to further stratify the neural progenitor genes. In situ hybridization demonstrates expression in the central nervous system germinal zones of 54 clones so identified, making them highly relevant for study in brain and neural progenitor development. Using microarray analysis we find 73 genes enriched in three neural stem cell (NSC)-containing populations generated under different conditions. We use the custom microarray to identify 38 "stemness" genes, with enriched expression in the three NSC conditions and present in both embryonic stem cells and hematopoietic stem cells. However, comparison of expression profiles from these stem cell populations indicates that while there is shared gene expression, the amount of genetic overlap is no more than what would be expected by chance, indicating that different stem cells have largely different gene expression patterns. Taken together, these studies identify many genes not previously associated with neural progenitor cell biology and also provide a rational scheme for stratification of microarray data for functional analysis.

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