Background: Neural stem/progenitor cells (NPCs) can differentiate into neurons, astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. NPCs are considered valuable for the cell therapy of injuries in the central nervous system (CNS). However, when NPCs are transplanted into the adult mammalian spinal cord, they mostly differentiate into glial lineage. The same results have been observed for endogenous NPCs during spinal cord injury. However, little is known about the mechanism of such fate decision of NPCs.
Methodology/principal findings: In the present study, we have found that myelin protein and Nogo-66 promoted the differentiation of NPCs into glial lineage. NgR and mTOR-Stat3 pathway were involved in this process. Releasing NgR from cell membranes or blocking mTOR-STAT3 could rescue the enhanced glial differentiation by Nogo-66.
Conclusions/significance: These results revealed a novel function of Nogo-66 in the fate decision of NPCs. This discovery could have profound impact on the understanding of CNS development and could improve the therapy of CNS injuries.