The Journal of cell biology

Cdk2 is critical for proliferation and self-renewal of neural progenitor cells in the adult subventricular zone.

PMID 18086919


We investigated the function of cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (Cdk2) in neural progenitor cells during postnatal development. Chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan (NG2)-expressing progenitor cells of the subventricular zone (SVZ) show no significant difference in density and proliferation between Cdk2(-/-) and wild-type mice at perinatal ages and are reduced only in adult Cdk2(-/-) mice. Adult Cdk2(-/-) SVZ cells in culture display decreased self-renewal capacity and enhanced differentiation. Compensatory mechanisms in perinatal Cdk2(-/-) SVZ cells, which persist until postnatal day 15, involve increased Cdk4 expression that results in retinoblastoma protein inactivation. A subsequent decline in Cdk4 activity to wild-type levels in postnatal day 28 Cdk2(-/-) cells coincides with lower NG2+ proliferation and self-renewal capacity similar to adult levels. Cdk4 silencing in perinatal Cdk2(-/-) SVZ cells abolishes Cdk4 up-regulation and reduces cell proliferation and self- renewal to adult levels. Conversely, Cdk4 overexpression in adult SVZ cells restores proliferative capacity to wild-type levels. Thus, although Cdk2 is functionally redundant in perinatal SVZ, it is important for adult progenitor cell proliferation and self-renewal through age-dependent regulation of Cdk4.