Ecrg4 deficiency extends the replicative capacity of neural stem cells in a Foxg1-dependent manner

Development. 2019 Feb 18;146(4):dev168120. doi: 10.1242/dev.168120.


The self-renewal activity of neural stem cells (NSCs) has been suggested to decrease with aging, resulting in age-dependent declines in brain function, such as presbyopia and memory loss. The molecular mechanisms underlying decreases in NSC proliferation with age need to be elucidated in more detail to develop treatments that promote brain function. We have previously reported that the expression of esophageal cancer-related gene 4 (Ecrg4) was upregulated in aged NSCs, whereas its overexpression decreased NSC proliferation, suggesting a functional relationship between Ecrg4 and NSC aging. Using Ecrg4-deficient mice in which the Ecrg4 locus was replaced with the lacZ gene, we here show that Ecrg4 deficiency recovered the age-dependent decline in NSC proliferation and enhanced spatial learning and memory in the Morris water-maze paradigm. We demonstrate that the proliferation of Ecrg4-deficient NSCs was partly maintained by the increased expression of Foxg1. Collectively, these results determine Ecrg4 as a NSC aging factor.

Keywords: Aging; Ecrg4; Foxg1; Memory; Neural stem cells (NSCs).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging*
  • Animals
  • Cell Proliferation
  • DNA Replication
  • Female
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Male
  • Maze Learning
  • Memory
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics*
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neural Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Neurogenesis*
  • Up-Regulation


  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Foxg1 protein, mouse
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • esophageal cancer related gene 4 protein, mouse