Hopx distinguishes hippocampal from lateral ventricle neural stem cells

Stem Cell Res. 2015 Nov;15(3):522-529. doi: 10.1016/j.scr.2015.09.015. Epub 2015 Oct 8.


In the adult dentate gyrus (DG) and in the proliferative zone lining the lateral ventricle (LV-PZ), radial glia-like (RGL) cells are neural stem cells (NSCs) that generate granule neurons. A number of molecular markers including glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), Sox2 and nestin, can identify quiescent NSCs in these two niches. However, to date, there is no marker that distinguishes NSC origin of DG versus LV-PZ. Hopx, an atypical homeodomain only protein, is expressed by adult stem cell populations including those in the intestine and hair follicle. Here, we show that Hopx is specifically expressed in RGL cells in the adult DG, and these cells give rise to granule neurons. Assessed by non-stereological quantitation, Hopx-null NSCs exhibit enhanced neurogenesis evident by an increased number of BrdU-positive cells and doublecortin (DCX)-positive neuroblasts. In contrast, Sox2-positive, quiescent NSCs are reduced in the DG of Hopx-null animals and Notch signaling is reduced, as evidenced by reduced expression of Notch targets Hes1 and Hey2, and a reduction of the number of cells expressing the cleaved, activated form of the Notch1 receptor, the Notch intracellular domain (NICD) in Hopx-null DG. Surprisingly, Hopx is not expressed in RGL cells of the adult LV-PZ, and Hopx-expressing cells do not give rise to interneurons of the olfactory bulb (OB). These findings establish that Hopx expression distinguishes NSCs of the DG from those of the LV-PZ, and suggest that Hopx potentially regulates hippocampal neurogenesis by modulating Notch signaling.

Keywords: Dentate gyrus; Hippocampus; Hopx; Neural stem cell; Neurogenesis; Notch.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Dentate Gyrus / metabolism*
  • Hippocampus / metabolism*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lateral Ventricles / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Neural Stem Cells / metabolism*


  • Hod protein, mouse
  • Homeodomain Proteins