Ubiquitin (Ub) is a highly conserved eukaryotic protein that plays pivotal roles in cellular signal transduction, differentiation, and proteolysis. Although we have previously reported that disruption of the polyubiquitin gene Ubb is associated with the dysregulated differentiation of neural stem cells (NSCs) into neurons, it is unclear how gene expression patterns are altered in Ubb knockout (KO) NSCs, and whether this altered gene expression contributes to Ubb KO neural phenotypes. To answer these questions, we used RNA-Seq to compare the transcriptomes of Ubb KO NSCs and Ubb heterozygous (HT) controls. We found that the expression levels of most proliferation markers were decreased in Ubb KO NSCs. To determine whether the reduced levels of proliferation markers were due to reduced self-renewal of NSCs, such as radial glia, we measured the levels of the radial glia marker, Pax6, in mouse embryonic brains at 14.5 dpc. We found that Pax6 levels were decreased and the ventricular zone was thinner in the embryonic brains of Ubb KO mice compared to those of wild-type (WT) control mice. To determine whether the decreased self-renewal of Ubb KO NSCs was caused by cell-autonomous defects and not due to their microenvironment, we transplanted NSCs into WT mouse brains using a cannula system. In mouse brain sections, immunoreactivity of the NSC marker, nestin, was much lower in Ubb KO NSCs than in Ubb HT controls. Therefore, our data suggest that cell-autonomous defects, due to the disruption of Ubb, lead to a decrease in the self-renewal capacity of NSCs and may contribute to their dysregulated differentiation into neurons.
Keywords: Neural stem cells; Polyubiquitin gene; Proliferation; Self-renewal; Ubiquitin.
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