Neurogenesis and gliogenesis continue in discrete regions of the adult mammalian brain. A fundamental question remains whether cell genesis occurs from distinct lineage-restricted progenitors or from self-renewing and multipotent neural stem cells in the adult brain. Here, we developed a genetic marking strategy for lineage tracing of individual, quiescent, and nestin-expressing radial glia-like (RGL) precursors in the adult mouse dentate gyrus. Clonal analysis identified multiple modes of RGL activation, including asymmetric and symmetric self-renewal. Long-term lineage tracing in vivo revealed a significant percentage of clones that contained RGL(s), neurons, and astrocytes, indicating capacity of individual RGLs for both self-renewal and multilineage differentiation. Furthermore, conditional Pten deletion in RGLs initially promotes their activation and symmetric self-renewal but ultimately leads to terminal astrocytic differentiation and RGL depletion in the adult hippocampus. Our study identifies RGLs as self-renewing and multipotent neural stem cells and provides novel insights into in vivo properties of adult neural stem cells.
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