Wnt/β-catenin signalling is dispensable for adult neural stem cell homeostasis and activation

Development. 2021 Oct 15;148(20):dev199629. doi: 10.1242/dev.199629. Epub 2021 Oct 19.


Adult mouse hippocampal neural stem cells (NSCs) generate new neurons that integrate into existing hippocampal networks and modulate mood and memory. These NSCs are largely quiescent and are stimulated by niche signals to activate and produce neurons. Wnt/β-catenin signalling acts at different steps along the hippocampal neurogenic lineage, but whether it has a direct role in the regulation of NSCs remains unclear. Here, we used Wnt/β-catenin reporters and transcriptomic data from in vivo and in vitro models to show that adult NSCs respond to Wnt/β-catenin signalling. Wnt/β-catenin stimulation instructed the neuronal differentiation of proliferating NSCs and promoted the activation or differentiation of quiescent NSCs in a dose-dependent manner. However, deletion of β-catenin in NSCs did not affect either their activation or maintenance of their stem cell characteristics. Together, these results indicate that, although NSCs do respond to Wnt/β-catenin stimulation in a dose-dependent and state-specific manner, Wnt/β-catenin signalling is not cell-autonomously required to maintain NSC homeostasis, which reconciles some of the contradictions in the literature as to the role of Wnt/β-catenin signalling in adult hippocampal NSCs.

Keywords: Adult neurogenesis; Adult stem cells; Quiescence; Wnt.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cell Proliferation / physiology
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Homeostasis / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Neural Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Neural Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Neurogenesis / physiology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway / physiology*
  • beta Catenin / metabolism*


  • CTNNB1 protein, mouse
  • beta Catenin