We have made considerable progress towards understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate the proliferation, differentiation and survival of neural progenitor cells in the developing and adult central nervous system. We found that SDFalpha, activates CXCR4 in glial progenitor cells resulting in increased migration and differentation of those cells. Our recent research has revealed a new molecular signaling system that regulates the fate of neural stem cells in the cerebral cortex. We used antibody-blocking and genetic experiments to reveal an requirement for laminin/integrin interactions in apical process adhesion and neural stem cell regulation. Transient abrogation of integrin binding and signalling using blocking antibodies to specifically target the ventricular region in utero results in abnormal cerebral cortex development. Using a multidisciplinary approach to analyse stem cell behaviour by expression of fluorescent transgenes and multiphoton time-lapse imaging revealed that the transient embryonic disruption of laminin/integrin signalling resulted in substantial layering defects in the postnatal neocortex. Apart from protecting telomeres, nuclear TRF2 interacts with the master neuronal gene-silencer repressor element 1-silencing transcription factor (REST), and disruption of this interaction induces neuronal differentiation. We discovered the existence of a developmental switch from the expression of TRF2 in proliferating neural progenitor cells to expression of a unique short nontelomeric isoform of TRF2 (TRF2-S) as neurons establish a fully differentiated state. Unlike nuclear TRF2, which enhances REST-mediated gene repression, TRF2-S is located in the cytoplasm where it sequesters REST, thereby maintaining the expression of neuronal genes, including those encoding glutamate receptors, cell adhesion, and neurofilament proteins. In neurons, TRF2-S-mediated antagonism of REST nuclear activity is greatly attenuated by either overexpression of TRF2 or administration of the excitatory amino acid kainic acid. Overexpression of TRF2-S rescues kainic acid-induced REST nuclear accumulation and its gene-silencing effects. Thus, TRF2-S acts as part of a unique developmentally regulated molecular switch that plays critical roles in the maintenance and plasticity of neurons. Recently,we found that TLR3 protein is present in brain cells in early embryonic stages of development, and in cultured neural stem/progenitor cells (NPC). NPC from TLR3-deficient embryos formed greater numbers of neurospheres compared with neurospheres from wild-type embryos. Numbers of proliferating cells, as assessed by phospho histone H3 and proliferating cell nuclear antigen labeling, were also increased in the developing cortex of TLR3-deficient mice compared with wild-type mice in vivo. Treatment of cultured embryonic cortical neurospheres with a TLR3 ligand (polyIC) significantly reduced proliferating (BrdU-labeled) cells and neurosphere formation in wild type but not TLR3(-/-)-derived NPCs. Our findings reveal a novel role for TLR3 in the negative regulation of NPC proliferation in the developing brain. Human embryonic stem cell (hESC)-derived dopaminergic (DA) neurons hold potential for treating Parkinson's disease (PD) through cell replacement therapy. Generation of DA neurons from hESCs has been achieved by coculture with the stromal cell line PA6, a source of stromal cell-derived inducing activity (SDIA). However, the factors produced by stromal cells that result in SDIA are largely undefined. We previously reported that medium conditioned by PA6 cells can generate functional DA neurons from NTera2 human embryonal carcinoma stem cells. Here we show that PA6-conditioned medium can induce DA neuronal differentiation in both NTera2 cells and the hESC I6 cell line. To identify the factor(s) responsible for SDIA, we used large-scale microarray analysis of gene expression combined with mass spectrometric analysis of PA6-conditioned medium (CM). The candidate factors, hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF1), secreted frizzled-related protein 1 (sFRP1), and vascular endothelial growth factor D (VEGFD) were identified, and their concentrations in PA6 CM were established by immunoaffinity capillary electrophoresis. Upon addition of SDF1, sFRP1, and VEGFD to the culture medium, we observed an increase in the number of cells expressing tyrosine hydroxylase (a marker for DA neurons) and III-tubulin (a marker for immature neurons) in both the NTera2 and I6 cell lines. These results indicate that SDF1, sFRP1, and VEGFD are major components of SDIA and suggest the potential use of these defined factors to elicit DA differentiation of pluripotent human stem cells for therapeutic intervention in PD. Although high amounts of reactive oxygen species (ROS) can damage cells, ROS can also play roles as second messengers, regulating diverse cellular processes. Here, we report that embryonic mouse cerebral cortical neural progenitor cells (NPCs) exhibit intermittent spontaneous bursts of mitochondrial superoxide (SO) generation (mitochondrial SO flashes) that require transient opening of membrane permeability transition pores (mPTP). This quantal SO production negatively regulates NPC self-renewal. Mitochondrial SO scavengers and mPTP inhibitors reduce SO flash frequency and enhance NPC proliferation, whereas prolonged mPTP opening and SO generation increase SO flash incidence and decrease NPC proliferation. The inhibition of NPC proliferation by mitochondrial SO involves suppression of extracellular signal-regulated kinases. Moreover, mice lacking SOD2 (SOD2-/- mice) exhibit significantly fewer proliferative NPCs and differentiated neurons in the embryonic cerebral cortex at midgestation compared with wild-type littermates. Cultured SOD2-/- NPCs exhibit a significant increase in SO flash frequency and reduced NPC proliferation. Taken together, our findings suggest that mitochondrial SO flashes negatively regulate NPC self-renewal in the developing cerebral cortex. We also found that the frequency of mitochondrial superoxide flashes increases as embryonic cerebral cortical neurons differentiate from NPCs, and provide evidence that the superoxide flashes serve a signaling function that is critical for the differentiation process. The superoxide flashes are mediated by mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP) opening, and pharmacological inhibition of the mPTP suppresses neuronal differentiation. Moreover, superoxide flashes and neuronal differentiation are inhibited by scavenging of mitochondrial superoxide. Conversely, manipulations that increase superoxide flash frequency accelerate neuronal differentiation. Our findings reveal a regulatory role for mitochondrial superoxide flashes, mediated by mPTP opening, in neuronal differentiation. In the present study, we found that mouse embryonic cortical neural progenitor cells exhibit intermittent spontaneous mitochondrial superoxide (SO) flashes that require transient opening of mitochondrial permeability transition pores (mPTPs). Mitochondrial SO flash activity in NPCs increased during the first 6 24 hours of exposure to aggregating amyloid beta-peptide (Abeta1-42), indicating an increase in transient mPTP opening. Subsequently, the SO flash frequency progressively decreased and ceased between 48 and 72 hours of exposure to Abeta1-42, during which time global cellular ROS increased, mitochondrial membrane potential decreased, cytochrome C was released from mitochondria and the cells degenerated. Inhibition of mPTPs and selective reduction in mitochondrial SO flashes significantly ameliorated the negative effects of Abeta1-42 on NPC proliferation and survival.

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Yang, Jenq-Lin; Lin, Yu-Ting; Chuang, Pei-Chin et al. (2014) BDNF and exercise enhance neuronal DNA repair by stimulating CREB-mediated production of apurinic/apyrimidinic endonuclease 1. Neuromolecular Med 16:161-74
Bai, Yun; Lathia, Justin D; Zhang, Peisu et al. (2014) Molecular targeting of TRF2 suppresses the growth and tumorigenesis of glioblastoma stem cells. Glia 62:1687-98
Hou, Yan; Ghosh, Paritosh; Wan, Ruiqian et al. (2014) Permeability transition pore-mediated mitochondrial superoxide flashes mediate an early inhibitory effect of amyloid beta1-42 on neural progenitor cell proliferation. Neurobiol Aging 35:975-89
Chigurupati, Srinivasulu; Mughal, Mohamed R; Okun, Eitan et al. (2013) Effects of cerium oxide nanoparticles on the growth of keratinocytes, fibroblasts and vascular endothelial cells in cutaneous wound healing. Biomaterials 34:2194-201
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Luo, Yongquan; Lathia, Justin; Mughal, Mohammed et al. (2008) SDF1alpha/CXCR4 signaling, via ERKs and the transcription factor Egr1, induces expression of a 67-kDa form of glutamic acid decarboxylase in embryonic hippocampal neurons. J Biol Chem 283:24789-800
Bushlin, Ittai; Petralia, Ronald S; Wu, Fangbai et al. (2008) Clathrin assembly protein AP180 and CALM differentially control axogenesis and dendrite outgrowth in embryonic hippocampal neurons. J Neurosci 28:10257-71
Zhang, Peisu; Pazin, Michael J; Schwartz, Catherine M et al. (2008) Nontelomeric TRF2-REST interaction modulates neuronal gene silencing and fate of tumor and stem cells. Curr Biol 18:1489-94
Lathia, Justin D; Okun, Eitan; Tang, Sung-Chun et al. (2008) Toll-like receptor 3 is a negative regulator of embryonic neural progenitor cell proliferation. J Neurosci 28:13978-84

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