Embryonic neurodevelopment involves inhibition of proliferation of multipotent neural stem cells (NSCs) followed by differentiation into neurons, astrocytes and oligodendrocytes to form the brain. We have identified a new neurotrophic factor, NF-α1, which inhibits proliferation and promotes differentiation of NSC/progenitors derived from E13.5 mouse cortex. Inhibition of proliferation of these cells was mediated through negatively regulating the Wnt pathway and decreasing β-catenin. NF-α1 induced differentiation of NSCs to astrocytes by enhancing Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein (GFAP) expression through activating the ERK1/2-Sox9 signaling pathway. Cultured E13.5 cortical stem cells from NF-α1-knockout mice showed decreased astrocyte numbers compared to wild-type mice, which was rescued by treatment with NF-α1. In vivo, immunocytochemistry of brain sections and Western blot analysis of neocortex of mice showed a gradual increase of NF-α1 expression from E14.5 to P1 and a surge of GFAP expression at P1, the time of increase in astrogenesis. Importantly, NF-α1-Knockout mice showed ∼49% fewer GFAP positive astrocytes in the neocortex compared to WT mice at P1. Thus, NF-α1 is critical for regulating antiproliferation and cell fate determination, through differentiating embryonic stem cells to GFAP-positive astrocytes for normal neurodevelopment. Stem Cells 2017;35:557-571.
Keywords: Astrocytes; Carboxypeptidase E; Neurotrophic factor-α1; Stem cell; Wnt pathway.
© 2016 AlphaMed Press.