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Cell Stem Cell. 2010 Dec 3;7(6):730-43. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2010.11.009.

EphB signaling controls lineage plasticity of adult neural stem cell niche cells.

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Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.


Stem cells remain in specialized niches over the lifespan of the organism in many organs to ensure tissue homeostasis and enable regeneration. How the niche is maintained is not understood, but is probably as important as intrinsic stem cell self-renewal capacity for tissue integrity. We here demonstrate a high degree of phenotypic plasticity of the two main niche cell types, ependymal cells and astrocytes, in the neurogenic lateral ventricle walls in the adult mouse brain. In response to a lesion, astrocytes give rise to ependymal cells and ependymal cells give rise to niche astrocytes. We identify EphB2 forward signaling as a key pathway regulating niche cell plasticity. EphB2 acts downstream of Notch and is required for the maintenance of ependymal cell characteristics, thereby inhibiting the transition from ependymal cell to astrocyte. Our results show that niche cell identity is actively maintained and that niche cells retain a high level of plasticity.

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