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Stem Cells. 2017 Sep;35(9):2071-2082. doi: 10.1002/stem.2662. Epub 2017 Jul 21.

Quiescent Oct4+ Neural Stem Cells (NSCs) Repopulate Ablated Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein+ NSCs in the Adult Mouse Brain.

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Institute of Medical Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.
Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.
Department of Surgery, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.


Adult primitive neural stem cells (pNSCs) are a rare population of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP)- Oct4+ cells in the mouse forebrain subependymal zone bordering the lateral ventricles that give rise to clonal neurospheres in leukemia inhibitory factor in vitro. pNSC neurospheres can be passaged to self-renew or give rise to GFAP+ NSCs that form neurospheres in epidermal growth factor and fibroblast growth factor 2, which we collectively refer to as definitive NSCs (dNSCs). Label retention experiments using doxycycline-inducible histone-2B (H2B)-green fluorescent protein (GFP) mice and several chase periods of up to 1 year quantified the adult pNSC cell cycle time as 3-5 months. We hypothesized that while pNSCs are not very proliferative at baseline, they may exist as a reserve pool of NSCs in case of injury. To test this function of pNSCs, we obtained conditional Oct4 knockout mice, Oct4fl/fl ;Sox1Cre (Oct4CKO ), which do not yield adult pNSC-derived neurospheres. When we ablated the progeny of pNSCs, namely all GFAP+ dNSCs, in these Oct4CKO mice, we found that dNSCs did not recover as they do in wild-type mice, suggesting that pNSCs are necessary for dNSC repopulation. Returning to the H2B-GFP mice, we observed that the cytosine β-d-arabinofuranoside ablation of proliferating cells including dNSCs-induced quiescent pNSCs to proliferate and significantly dilute their H2B-GFP label. In conclusion, we demonstrate that pNSCs are the most quiescent stem cells in the adult brain reported to date and that their lineage position upstream of GFAP+ dNSCs allows them to repopulate a depleted neural lineage. Stem Cells 2017;35:2071-2082.


Adult stem cells; Neural stem cells (NSCs); Stem cell cycle; Tissue regeneration

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