Heterogeneous pools of adult neural stem cells (NSCs) contribute to brain maintenance and regeneration after injury. The balance of NSC activation and quiescence, as well as the induction of lineage-specific transcription factors, may contribute to diversity of neuronal and glial fates. To identify molecular hallmarks governing these characteristics, we performed single-cell sequencing of an unbiased pool of adult subventricular zone NSCs. This analysis identified a discrete, dormant NSC subpopulation that already expresses distinct combinations of lineage-specific transcription factors during homeostasis. Dormant NSCs enter a primed-quiescent state before activation, which is accompanied by downregulation of glycolytic metabolism, Notch, and BMP signaling and a concomitant upregulation of lineage-specific transcription factors and protein synthesis. In response to brain ischemia, interferon gamma signaling induces dormant NSC subpopulations to enter the primed-quiescent state. This study unveils general principles underlying NSC activation and lineage priming and opens potential avenues for regenerative medicine in the brain.
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