The responses of neural stem cells to the level of GSK-3 depend on the tissue of origin Academic Article uri icon

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  • Summary Neural stem cells (NSCs) can be obtained from a variety of sources, but not all NSCs exhibit the same characteristics. We have examined how the level of glycogen synthase kinase-3 activity regulates NSCs obtained from different sources: the mouse embryonic striatum, embryonic hippocampus, and mouse ES cells. Growth of striatal NSCs is enhanced by mild inhibition of GSK-3 but not by strong inhibition that is accompanied by Wnt/TCF transcriptional activation. In contrast, the growth of hippocampal NSCs is enhanced by both mild inhibition of GSK-3 as well as stronger inhibition. Active Wnt/TCF signaling, which occurs normally in the embryonic hippocampus, is required for growth of neural stem and progenitor cells. In the embryonic striatal germinal zone, however, TCF signaling is normally absent and its activation inhibits growth of NSCs from this region. Using a genetic model for progressive loss of GSK-3, we find that primitive ES cell-derived NSCs resemble striatal NSCs. That is, partial loss of GSK-3 alleles leads to an increase in NSCs while complete ablation of GSK-3, and activation of TCF-signaling, leads to their decline. Furthermore, expression of dominant negative TCF-4 in the GSK-3-null background was effective in blocking expression of Wnt-response genes and was also able to rescue neuronal gene expression. These results reveal that GSK-3 regulates NSCs by divergent pathways depending on the tissue of origin. The responses of these neural precursor cells may be contingent on baseline Wnt/TCF signaling occurring in a particular tissue.


  • Holowacz, Tamara
  • Alexson, Tania O
  • Coles, Brenda L
  • Doble, Bradley
  • Kelly, Kevin F
  • Woodgett, James R
  • Van Der Kooy, Derek

publication date

  • August 15, 2013