The homeobox gene Gsx2 regulates the self-renewal and differentiation of neural stem cells and the cell fate of postnatal progenitors

PLoS One. 2012;7(1):e29799. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0029799. Epub 2012 Jan 5.


The Genetic screened homeobox 2 (Gsx2) transcription factor is required for the development of olfactory bulb (OB) and striatal neurons, and for the regional specification of the embryonic telencephalon. Although Gsx2 is expressed abundantly by progenitor cells in the ventral telencephalon, its precise function in the generation of neurons from neural stem cells (NSCs) is not clear. Similarly, the role of Gsx2 in regulating the self-renewal and multipotentiality of NSCs has been little explored. Using retroviral vectors to express Gsx2, we have studied the effect of Gsx2 on the growth of NSCs isolated from the OB and ganglionic eminences (GE), as well as its influence on the proliferation and cell fate of progenitors in the postnatal mouse OB. Expression of Gsx2 reduces proliferation and the self-renewal capacity of NSCs, without significantly affecting cell death. Furthermore, Gsx2 overexpression decreases the differentiation of NSCs into neurons and glia, and it maintains the cells that do not differentiate as cycling progenitors. These effects were stronger in GESCs than in OBSCs, indicating that the actions of Gsx2 are cell-dependent. In vivo, Gsx2 produces a decrease in the number of Pax6+ cells and doublecortin+ neuroblasts, and an increase in Olig2+ cells. In summary, our findings show that Gsx2 inhibits the ability of NSCs to proliferate and self-renew, as well as the capacity of NSC-derived progenitors to differentiate, suggesting that this transcription factor regulates the quiescent and undifferentiated state of NSCs and progenitors. Furthermore, our data indicate that Gsx2 negatively regulates neurogenesis from postnatal progenitor cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Astrocytes / cytology
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Cell Aggregation
  • Cell Death
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics*
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Lineage*
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Embryo, Mammalian / cytology
  • Genetic Vectors / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Neural Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Neural Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Olfactory Bulb / cytology
  • Oligodendroglia / cytology
  • Retroviridae / genetics
  • Transduction, Genetic


  • Biomarkers
  • Gsx2 protein, human
  • Homeodomain Proteins