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PLoS One. 2011 Mar 9;6(3):e17736. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0017736.

Geminin-deficient neural stem cells exhibit normal cell division and normal neurogenesis.

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Feinberg Cardiovascular Research Institute, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, United States of America.


Neural stem cells (NSCs) are the progenitors of neurons and glial cells during both embryonic development and adult life. The unstable regulatory protein Geminin (Gmnn) is thought to maintain neural stem cells in an undifferentiated state while they proliferate. Geminin inhibits neuronal differentiation in cultured cells by antagonizing interactions between the chromatin remodeling protein Brg1 and the neural-specific transcription factors Neurogenin and NeuroD. Geminin is widely expressed in the CNS during throughout embryonic development, and Geminin expression is down-regulated when neuronal precursor cells undergo terminal differentiation. Over-expression of Geminin in gastrula-stage Xenopus embryos can expand the size of the neural plate. The role of Geminin in regulating vertebrate neurogenesis in vivo has not been rigorously examined. To address this question, we created a strain of Nestin-Cre/Gmnn(fl/fl) mice in which the Geminin gene was specifically deleted from NSCs. Interestingly, we found no major defects in the development or function of the central nervous system. Neural-specific Gmnn(Δ/Δ) mice are viable and fertile and display no obvious neurological or neuroanatomical abnormalities. They have normal numbers of BrdU(+) NSCs in the subgranular zone of the dentate gyrus, and Gmnn(Δ/Δ) NSCs give rise to normal numbers of mature neurons in pulse-chase experiments. Gmnn(Δ/Δ) neurosphere cells differentiate normally into both neurons and glial cells when grown in growth factor-deficient medium. Both the growth rate and the cell cycle distribution of cultured Gmnn(Δ/Δ) neurosphere cells are indistinguishable from controls. We conclude that Geminin is largely dispensable for most of embryonic and adult mammalian neurogenesis.

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