Homeostatic neurogenesis in the adult hippocampus does not involve amplification of Ascl1(high) intermediate progenitors

Nat Commun. 2012 Feb 14;3:670. doi: 10.1038/ncomms1670.


Neural stem/progenitor cells generate neurons in the adult hippocampus. Neural stem cells produce transient intermediate progenitors (type-2 cells), which generate neuroblasts (type-3 cells) that exit the cell cycle, and differentiate into neurons. The precise dynamics of neuron production from the neural stem cells remains controversial. Here we lineage trace Notch-dependent neural stem cells in the dentate gyrus and show that over 7-21 days, the progeny of the neural stem cells progress through an Ascl1(high) intermediate stage (type-2a) to neuroblasts. However, contrary to predictions, this Ascl1(high) population is not an amplifying intermediate, but it differentiates into mitotic Tbr2(+) early neuroblasts, which in turn expand the lineage. After 100 days, the majority of the neural stem cell progeny are neuroblasts or postmitotic neurons. Hence, the neural stem cells require many weeks to generate differentiated neurons. On the basis of this temporal delay in differentiation and population expansion, we propose that the neural stem cell and early neuroblast divisions drive dentate gyrus neurogenesis and not the amplification of type-2a intermediate progenitors as was previously thought.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Bromodeoxyuridine / pharmacology
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cell Lineage
  • Developmental Biology / methods
  • Hippocampus / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Mitosis
  • Neural Stem Cells
  • Neurogenesis*
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Stem Cells / cytology*


  • Bromodeoxyuridine