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Stem Cells Dev. 2014 Jun 15;23(12):1328-39. doi: 10.1089/scd.2013.0557. Epub 2014 Mar 25.

HES5 is a key mediator of Wnt-3a-induced neuronal differentiation.

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Albrecht-Kossel-Institute for Neuroregeneration (AKos), University of Rostock , Rostock, Germany .


Human neural stem/progenitor cell (hNPC)-derived neuronal progeny has been suggested as a promising cell source in a variety of neurodegenerative diseases. Understanding the underlying mechanisms that regulate neuronal differentiation is essential for efficient cell-based therapies. Wnt and Notch signaling has been shown to be crucial in this process. However, their interactions in the process of neuronal differentiation remain elusive. By using human fetal (ReNcell VM) and iPS-derived hNPCs we demonstrate that Wnt-3a immediately induced a transient HES1 upregulation and a sustained HES5 repression that was accompanied by upregulation of the proneural gene MASH1. Conversely, overexpression of HES5 resulted in reduced MASH1 expression. Remarkably, HES5 overexpression efficiently blocked Wnt-3a as well as γ-secretase inhibitor N-[N-(3,5-difluorophenacetyl)-L-alanyl]-S-phenylglycine t-butyl ester (DAPT)-induced neuronal differentiation that was accompanied by a strong MASH1 downregulation thus directly linking HES5 repression/MASH1 induction to the proneurogenic effect of Wnt-3a. Stabilized β-catenin or treatment with the specific glycogen synthase kinase 3 beta (GSK3β) inhibitor SB-216763 failed to or only partially mimicked these effects, suggesting a GSK3β- and β-catenin-independent mechanism. Further, inhibition of Wnt-3a-LDL-receptor-related protein 5/6 (LRP5/6) interactions using Dickkopf-1 (Dkk-1) failed to inhibit the modulatory effect of Wnt-3a on HES1/5 and neuronal differentiation. Taken together, these data identify HES5 as a key mediator of the Wnt-3a proneurogenic effect occurring independently of the classical Wnt/β-catenin signaling cascade thus further deciphering crosstalk mechanisms of Wnt and Notch signaling pathways regulating cell fate of hNPCs.

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