Temporal downregulation of the polyubiquitin gene Ubb affects neuronal differentiation, but not maturation, in cells cultured in vitro

Sci Rep. 2018 Feb 8;8(1):2629. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-21032-6.


Reduced levels of cellular ubiquitin (Ub) pools due to disruption of the polyubiquitin gene Ubb lead to dysregulation of neural stem cell (NSC) differentiation and impaired neuronal maturation in cells isolated from Ubb -/- mouse embryonic brains. However, it is currently unknown whether Ub is required for the specific stage of neuronal development or whether it plays a pleiotropic role throughout the process. To answer this question, we aimed to downregulate Ubb expression temporally during neuronal development, which could not be achieved in Ubb -/- cells. Therefore, we exploited lentivirus-mediated knockdown (KD) of Ubb at different stages of neuronal development, and investigated their phenotypes. Here, we report the outcome of Ubb KD on two independent culture days in vitro (DIV): DIV1 and DIV7. We observed that NSCs did not differentiate properly via Ubb KD on DIV1, but the maturation of already differentiated neurons was intact via Ubb KD on DIV7. Intriguingly, Ubb KD activated Notch signaling when it had been suppressed, but exerted no effect when it had already been activated. Therefore, our study suggests that Ub plays a pivotal role in NSC differentiation to suppress Notch signaling, but not in the subsequent maturation stages of neurons that had already been differentiated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Down-Regulation
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Mice
  • Neural Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Neurogenesis / genetics*
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Polyubiquitin / metabolism
  • Receptors, Notch / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Ubiquitin / genetics*


  • Receptors, Notch
  • Ubb protein, mouse
  • Ubiquitin
  • Polyubiquitin