Single-Cell Transcriptomics Reveals a Population of Dormant Neural Stem Cells that Become Activated upon Brain Injury

Cell Stem Cell. 2015 Sep 3;17(3):329-40. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2015.07.002. Epub 2015 Jul 30.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Injuries / pathology*
  • Brain Ischemia / pathology
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Lineage
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods*
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neural Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Neural Stem Cells / pathology*
  • Single-Cell Analysis / methods*
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Interferon-gamma

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE67833