Identification of Qk as a Glial Precursor Cell Marker that Governs the Fate Specification of Neural Stem Cells to a Glial Cell Lineage

Stem Cell Reports. 2020 Oct 13;15(4):883-897. doi: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2020.08.010. Epub 2020 Sep 24.


During brain development, neural stem cells (NSCs) initially produce neurons and change their fate to generate glias. While the regulation of neurogenesis is well characterized, specific markers for glial precursor cells (GPCs) and the master regulators for gliogenesis remain unidentified. Accumulating evidence suggests that RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) have significant roles in neuronal development and function, as they comprehensively regulate the expression of target genes in a cell-type-specific manner. We systematically investigated the expression profiles of 1,436 murine RBPs in the developing mouse brain and identified quaking (Qk) as a marker of the putative GPC population. Functional analysis of the NSC-specific Qk-null mutant mouse revealed the key role of Qk in astrocyte and oligodendrocyte generation and differentiation from NSCs. Mechanistically, Qk upregulates gliogenic genes via quaking response elements in their 3' untranslated regions. These results provide crucial directions for identifying GPCs and deciphering the regulatory mechanisms of gliogenesis from NSCs.

Keywords: 3′ untranslated region; RNA-binding protein; RNA-seq; endocytosis; glial precursor cells/GPCs; gliogenesis; mRNA stabilization; neural stem cells/NSCs; quaking/Qk; regulon.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / metabolism
  • Atrophy / pathology
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Brain / pathology
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Lineage*
  • Endocytosis / genetics
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Myelin Sheath / pathology
  • Neural Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Neural Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Neuroglia / cytology*
  • Neuroglia / metabolism*
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Oligodendroglia / cytology
  • Oligodendroglia / metabolism
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Regulon / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Up-Regulation / genetics


  • Biomarkers
  • Qk protein, mouse
  • RNA-Binding Proteins