Indexed on: 05 Dec '14Published on: 05 Dec '14Published in: Stem cells and development
Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) undergoing neural differentiation form radial arrays of neural stem cells, termed neural rosettes. These structures manifest many of the properties associated with embryonic and adult neurogenesis, including cell polarization, interkinetic nuclear migration (INM), and a gradient of neuronal differentiation. We now identify novel rosette structural features that serve to localize key regulators of neurogenesis. Cells within neural rosettes have specialized basal as well as apical surfaces, based on localization of the extracellular matrix receptor β1 integrin. Apical processes of cells in mature rosettes terminate at the lumen, where adherens junctions are apparent. Primary cilia are randomly distributed in immature rosettes and tightly associated with the neural stem cell's apical domain as rosettes mature. Components of two signaling pathways known to regulate neurogenesis in vivo and in rosettes, Hedgehog and Notch, are apically localized, with the Hedgehog effector Smoothened (Smo) associated with primary cilia and the Notch pathway γ-secretase subunit Presenilin 2 associated with the adherens junction. Increased neuron production upon treatment with the Notch inhibitor DAPT suggests a major role for Notch signaling in maintaining the neural stem cell state, as previously described. A less robust outcome was observed with manipulation of Hedgehog levels, though consistent with a role in neural stem cell survival or proliferation. Inhibition of both pathways resulted in an additive effect. These data support a model by which cells extending a process to the rosette lumen maintain neural stem cell identity whereas release from this association, either through asymmetric cell division or apical abscission, promotes neuronal differentiation.