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Dev Biol. 2006 Nov 1;299(1):283-302. Epub 2006 Jul 29.

Neural stem cell properties of Müller glia in the mammalian retina: regulation by Notch and Wnt signaling.

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1
Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68198-5840, USA.

Abstract

The retina in adult mammals, unlike those in lower vertebrates such as fish and amphibians, is not known to support neurogenesis. However, when injured, the adult mammalian retina displays neurogenic changes, raising the possibility that neurogenic potential may be evolutionarily conserved and could be exploited for regenerative therapy. Here, we show that Müller cells, when retrospectively enriched from the normal retina, like their radial glial counterparts in the central nervous system (CNS), display cardinal features of neural stem cells (NSCs), i.e., they self-renew and generate all three basic cell types of the CNS. In addition, they possess the potential to generate retinal neurons, both in vitro and in vivo. We also provide direct evidence, by transplanting prospectively enriched injury-activated Müller cells into normal eye, that Müller cells have neurogenic potential and can generate retinal neurons, confirming a hypothesis, first proposed in lower vertebrates. This potential is likely due to the NSC nature of Müller cells that remains dormant under the constraint of non-neurogenic environment of the adult normal retina. Additionally, we demonstrate that the mechanism of activating the dormant stem cell properties in Müller cells involves Wnt and Notch pathways. Together, these results identify Müller cells as latent NSCs in the mammalian retina and hence, may serve as a potential target for cellular manipulation for treating retinal degeneration.

PMID:
16949068
DOI:
10.1016/j.ydbio.2006.07.029
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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