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Stem Cells. 2012 Mar;30(3):500-9. doi: 10.1002/stem.1005.

Modification of pax6 and olig2 expression in adult hippocampal neurogenesis selectively induces stem cell fate and alters both neuronal and glial populations.

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  • 1Department of Neuroscience, The Chicago Medical School, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, North Chicago, IL, USA.


The generation of new neurons in the mammalian hippocampus continues throughout life, and lineage progression is regulated by transcription factors, local cues, and environmental influences. The ability to direct stem/progenitor cell fate in situ may have therapeutic potential. Using an in vivo retroviral delivery and lineage tracing approach, we compare the lineage-instruction factors, Pax6 and Olig2, and demonstrate that both participate in regulation of adult hippocampal neurogenesis in adult rats. We show that overexpression of the proneuronal factor Pax6 pushes neuronal precursor cells to early maturation and increases the frequency of neuronal phenotypes. However, Pax6 overexpression results in no net increase in neurogenesis at 3 weeks. Blocking of Olig2 function reduces and slows neuronal commitment and differentiation and decreases net neurogenesis. Altering expression of both factors also changes gliogenesis. Our results establish that Pax6 decreases the number of Neuron-Glia 2 progenitor cells and prevents oligodendrocytic lineage commitment, while repression of Olig2 results in an expanded astrocytic lineage. We conclude that selectively modifying transcriptional cues within hippocampal progenitor cells is sufficient to induce a cell fate switch, thus altering the neurogenesis-gliogenesis ratio. In addition, our data show the competence of multiple progenitor lineages to respond divergently to the same signal. Therefore, directing instructive cues to select phenotype and developmental stage could be critical to achieve precise outcomes in cell genesis. Further understanding the regulation of lineage progression in all progenitor populations within the target region will be important for developing therapeutic strategies to direct cell fate for brain repair.

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