Neurons arise in the adult forebrain subventricular zone (SVZ) from Type B neural stem cells (NSCs), raising considerable interest in the molecules that maintain this life-long neurogenic niche. Type B cells are anchored by specialized apical endfeet in the center of a pinwheel of ependymal cells. Here we show that the apical endfeet express high levels of the adhesion and signaling molecule vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM1). Disruption of VCAM1 in vivo causes loss of the pinwheels, disrupted SVZ cytoarchitecture, proliferation and depletion of the normally quiescent apical Type B cells, and increased neurogenesis in the olfactory bulb, demonstrating a key role in niche structure and function. We show that VCAM1 signals via NOX2 production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) to maintain NSCs. VCAM1 on Type B cells is increased by IL-1β, demonstrating that it can act as an environmental sensor, responding to chemokines involved in tissue repair.
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