Yuan, XB (reprint author), Chinese Acad Sci, Shanghai Inst Biol Sci, Inst Neurosci, Shanghai 200031, Peoples R China,email@example.com
The intermediate filament (IF) protein nestin is a widely accepted molecular marker for neural progenitor cells (NPCs), but its function during neurogenesis remains largely unknown. We found that in embryonic cortical NPCs down-regulation of the expression of nestin, but not its co-polymer IF protein vimentin, resulted in a G1 cell-cycle arrest and a severe reduction in the generation of neurons. Furthermore, down-regulating nestin expression in cultured cortical NPCs markedly suppressed their colony-formation ability and blocked the elevation of the cyclin D1/E protein level in response to the treatment with bFGF. Interestingly, nestin down-regulation caused a marked suppression in the activation of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway but not the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway in these NPCs. Moreover, defects in the proliferation of cortical NPCs caused by nestin down-regulation could be prevented by up-regulating PI3K activity. Thus, nestin is essential for the proliferation of NPCs by promoting the activation of PI3K in response to mitogenic growth factors. (C) 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.