BMC biology

A new role of hindbrain boundaries as pools of neural stem/progenitor cells regulated by Sox2.

PMID 27392568


Compartment boundaries are an essential developmental mechanism throughout evolution, designated to act as organizing centers and to regulate and localize differently fated cells. The hindbrain serves as a fascinating example for this phenomenon as its early development is devoted to the formation of repetitive rhombomeres and their well-defined boundaries in all vertebrates. Yet, the actual role of hindbrain boundaries remains unresolved, especially in amniotes. Here, we report that hindbrain boundaries in the chick embryo consist of a subset of cells expressing the key neural stem cell (NSC) gene Sox2. These cells co-express other neural progenitor markers such as Transitin (the avian Nestin), GFAP, Pax6 and chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan. The majority of the Sox2(+) cells that reside within the boundary core are slow-dividing, whereas nearer to and within rhombomeres Sox2(+) cells are largely proliferating. In vivo analyses and cell tracing experiments revealed the contribution of boundary Sox2(+) cells to neurons in a ventricular-to-mantle manner within the boundaries, as well as their lateral contribution to proliferating Sox2(+) cells in rhombomeres. The generation of boundary-derived neurospheres from hindbrain cultures confirmed the typical NSC behavior of boundary cells as a multipotent and self-renewing Sox2(+) cell population. Inhibition of Sox2 in boundaries led to enhanced and aberrant neural differentiation together with inhibition in cell-proliferation, whereas Sox2 mis-expression attenuated neurogenesis, confirming its significant function in hindbrain neuronal organization. Data obtained in this study deciphers a novel role of hindbrain boundaries as repetitive pools of neural stem/progenitor cells, which provide proliferating progenitors and differentiating neurons in a Sox2-dependent regulation.

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