Research ArticleNEUROSCIENCE

A neuronal molecular switch through cell-cell contact that regulates quiescent neural stem cells

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Science Advances  27 Feb 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 2, eaav4416
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav4416

Abstract

The quiescence of radial neural stem cells (rNSCs) in adult brain is regulated by environmental stimuli. However, little is known about how the neurogenic niche couples the external signal to regulate activation and transition of quiescent rNSCs. Here, we reveal that long-term excitation of hippocampal dentate granule cells (GCs) upon voluntary running leads to activation of adult rNSCs in the subgranular zone and thereby generation of newborn neurons. Unexpectedly, the role of these excited GC neurons in NSCs depends on direct GC-rNSC interaction in the local niche, which is through down-regulated ephrin-B3, a GC membrane–bound ligand, and attenuated transcellular EphB2 kinase–dependent signaling in the adjacent rNSCs. Furthermore, constitutively active EphB2 kinase sustains the quiescence of rNSCs during running. These findings thus elucidate the physiological significance of GC excitability on adult rNSCs under external environments and indicate a key-lock switch regulation via cell-cell contact for functional transition of rNSCs.

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