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Nat Cell Biol. 2010 Jan;12(1):31-40; sup pp 1-9. doi: 10.1038/ncb2001. Epub 2009 Dec 13.

Orphan nuclear receptor TLX activates Wnt/beta-catenin signalling to stimulate neural stem cell proliferation and self-renewal.

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Department of Neurosciences, Center for Gene Expression and Drug Discovery, 1500 E. Duarte Road, Duarte, California 91010, USA.


The nuclear receptor TLX (also known as NR2E1) is essential for adult neural stem cell self-renewal; however, the molecular mechanisms involved remain elusive. Here we show that TLX activates the canonical Wnt/beta-catenin pathway in adult mouse neural stem cells. Furthermore, we demonstrate that Wnt/beta-catenin signalling is important in the proliferation and self-renewal of adult neural stem cells in the presence of epidermal growth factor and fibroblast growth factor. Wnt7a and active beta-catenin promote neural stem cell self-renewal, whereas the deletion of Wnt7a or the lentiviral transduction of axin, a beta-catenin inhibitor, led to decreased cell proliferation in adult neurogenic areas. Lentiviral transduction of active beta-catenin led to increased numbers of type B neural stem cells in the subventricular zone of adult brains, whereas deletion of Wnt7a or TLX resulted in decreased numbers of neural stem cells retaining bromodeoxyuridine label in the adult brain. Both Wnt7a and active beta-catenin significantly rescued a TLX (also known as Nr2e1) short interfering RNA-induced deficiency in neural stem cell proliferation. Lentiviral transduction of an active beta-catenin increased cell proliferation in neurogenic areas of TLX-null adult brains markedly. These results strongly support the hypothesis that TLX acts through the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway to regulate neural stem cell proliferation and self-renewal. Moreover, this study suggests that neural stem cells can promote their own self-renewal by secreting signalling molecules that act in an autocrine/paracrine mode.

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