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Elife. 2016 Nov 15;5. pii: e20750. doi: 10.7554/eLife.20750.

Sam68 promotes self-renewal and glycolytic metabolism in mouse neural progenitor cells by modulating Aldh1a3 pre-mRNA 3'-end processing.

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Department of Biomedicine and Prevention, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy.
Laboratory of Neuroembryology, Fondazione Santa Lucia, Rome, Italy.
Laboratory of Neuroimmunology, Fondazione Santa Lucia, Rome, Italy.
Institute of Cell Biology and Neurobiology CNR, Rome, Italy.


The balance between self-renewal and differentiation of neural progenitor cells (NPCs) dictates neurogenesis and proper brain development. We found that the RNA- binding protein Sam68 (Khdrbs1) is strongly expressed in neurogenic areas of the neocortex and supports the self-renewing potential of mouse NPCs. Knockout of Khdrbs1 constricted the pool of proliferating NPCs by accelerating their cell cycle exit and differentiation into post-mitotic neurons. Sam68 function was linked to regulation of Aldh1a3 pre-mRNA 3'-end processing. Binding of Sam68 to an intronic polyadenylation site prevents its recognition and premature transcript termination, favoring expression of a functional enzyme. The lower ALDH1A3 expression and activity in Khdrbs1-/- NPCs results in reduced glycolysis and clonogenicity, thus depleting the embryonic NPC pool and limiting cortical expansion. Our study identifies Sam68 as a key regulator of NPC self-renewal and establishes a novel link between modulation of ALDH1A3 expression and maintenance of high glycolytic metabolism in the developing cortex.


ALDH1A3; Sam68; alternative splicing; cell biology; glycolytic metabolism; mouse; neural progenitor cells; neuroscience; pre-mRNA processing

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