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Mol Cell Biol. 2008 Dec;28(24):7427-41. doi: 10.1128/MCB.01962-07. Epub 2008 Oct 13.

Stabilized beta-catenin functions through TCF/LEF proteins and the Notch/RBP-Jkappa complex to promote proliferation and suppress differentiation of neural precursor cells.

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Division of Cell Fate Modulation, Institute of Molecular Embryology and Genetics, Kumamoto University, 2-2-1 Honjo, Kumamoto, Kumamoto 860-0811, Japan.


The proliferation and differentiation of neural precursor cells are mutually exclusive during brain development. Despite its importance for precursor cell self renewal, the molecular linkage between these two events has remained unclear. Fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2) promotes neural precursor cell proliferation and concurrently inhibits their differentiation, suggesting a cross talk between proliferation and differentiation signaling pathways downstream of the FGF receptor. We demonstrate that FGF2 signaling through phosphatidylinositol 3 kinase activation inactivates glycogen synthase kinase 3beta (GSK3beta) and leads to the accumulation of beta-catenin in a manner different from that in the Wnt canonical pathway. The nuclear accumulated beta-catenin leads to cell proliferation by activating LEF/TCF transcription factors and concurrently inhibits neuronal differentiation by potentiating the Notch1-RBP-Jkappa signaling pathway. beta-Catenin and the Notch1 intracellular domain form a molecular complex with the promoter region of the antineurogenic hes1 gene, allowing its expression. This signaling interplay is especially essential for neural stem cell maintenance, since the misexpression of dominant-active GSK3beta completely inhibits the self renewal of neurosphere-forming stem cells and prompts their neuronal differentiation. Thus, the GSK3beta/beta-catenin signaling axis regulated by FGF and Wnt signals plays a pivotal role in the maintenance of neural stem/precursor cells by linking the cell proliferation to the inhibition of differentiation.

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