Pax6 is essential for the maintenance and multi-lineage differentiation of neural stem cells, and for neuronal incorporation into the adult olfactory bulb

Stem Cells Dev. 2014 Dec 1;23(23):2813-30. doi: 10.1089/scd.2014.0058. Epub 2014 Sep 17.


The paired type homeobox 6 (Pax6) transcription factor (TF) regulates multiple aspects of neural stem cell (NSC) and neuron development in the embryonic central nervous system. However, less is known about the role of Pax6 in the maintenance and differentiation of adult NSCs and in adult neurogenesis. Using the +/Sey(Dey) mouse, we have analyzed how Pax6 heterozygosis influences the self-renewal and proliferation of adult olfactory bulb stem cells (aOBSCs). In addition, we assessed its influence on neural differentiation, neuronal incorporation, and cell death in the adult OB, both in vivo and in vitro. Our results indicate that the Pax6 mutation alters Nestin(+)-cell proliferation in vivo, as well as self-renewal, proliferation, and survival of aOBSCs in vitro although a subpopulation of +/Sey(Dey) progenitors is able to expand partially similar to wild-type progenitors. This mutation also impairs aOBSC differentiation into neurons and oligodendrocytes, whereas it increases cell death while preserving astrocyte survival and differentiation. Furthermore, Pax6 heterozygosis causes a reduction in the variety of neurochemical interneuron subtypes generated from aOBSCs in vitro and in the incorporation of newly generated neurons into the OB in vivo. Our findings support an important role of Pax6 in the maintenance of aOBSCs by regulating cell death, self-renewal, and cell fate, as well as in neuronal incorporation into the adult OB. They also suggest that deregulation of the cell cycle machinery and TF expression in aOBSCs which are deficient in Pax6 may be at the origin of the phenotypes observed in this adult NSC population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult Stem Cells / cytology
  • Adult Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Cell Proliferation / physiology*
  • Eye Proteins / genetics
  • Eye Proteins / metabolism*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Mutation
  • Neural Stem Cells / cytology
  • Neural Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Olfactory Bulb / cytology
  • Olfactory Bulb / metabolism*
  • PAX6 Transcription Factor
  • Paired Box Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Paired Box Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism*


  • Eye Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • PAX6 Transcription Factor
  • Paired Box Transcription Factors
  • Pax6 protein, mouse
  • Repressor Proteins