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Open Access Cellular Epigenetic Modifications of Neural Stem Cell Differentiation

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Emerging information indicates that epigenetic modification (i.e., histone code and DNA methylation) may be integral to the maintenance and differentiation of neural stem cells (NSCs), but their actual involvement has not yet been illustrated. In this study, we demonstrated the dynamic nature of epigenetic marks during the differentiation of quiescent adult rat NSCs in neurospheres. A subpopulation of OCT4+ NSCs in the neurosphere contained histone marks, trimethylated histone 3 on lysine 27 (3me-H3K27), 2me-H3K4, and acetylated H4 (Ac-H4). A major decrease of these marks was found prior to or during differentiation, and was further diminished or reprogrammed in diverse subpopulations of migrated NSCs expressing nestin or -III-tubulin. The DNA methylation mark 5-methyl-cytosine (5-MeC), and DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) 1 and 3a expression also correlated to the state of differentiation; they were highly present in undifferentiated NSCs but downregulated in migrated populations. In contrast, DNA methyl-CpG-binding protein (MBD1) was low in undifferentiated NSCs in neurospheres, but highly appeared in differentiating NSCs. Furthermore, we found an outward translocation of DNA methylation marker 5-MeC, DNMT1, DNMT3a, and MBD1 in NSCs as differentiation began and proceeded; 5-MeC from homogeneous nucleus to peripheral nucleus, and DMNT1a and 3a from nuclear to cytoplasm, indicating chromatin remodeling. Treatment with DNA methylation inhibitor, 5-aza-cytidine, altered DNA methylation and disrupted migration as indicated by a reduction of migrated neurons and differentiation. These results indicate that chromatin is dynamically remodeled when NSCs transform from the quiescent state to active growth, and that DNA methylation modification is essential for neural stem cell differentiation.

Keywords: 5-aza-Cytidine; DNA methylation; DNMT; Histone code; MBD1; Neural progenitor cells

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Departments of Anatomy & Cell Biology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN, USA

Publication date: 2009-10-01

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  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.
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