The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 46: 661 - 670 (2002)

Vol 46, Issue 4

Special Issue: Developmental Biology in Australia and New Zealand

Heparan sulfates isolated from adult neural progenitor cells can direct phenotypic maturation

Published: 1 July 2002

Hiram Chipperfield, Kuldip S Bedi, Simon M Cool and Victor Nurcombe

School of Biomedical Sciences, Dept of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia.


Multipotent progenitor stem cells that generate both neurons and glia are components of the hippocampus, subventricular zone and olfactory system of adult mammalian nervous system. The lineage choices any stem cell makes are known to be greatly dependent on the constitution of the extracellular matrix to which they are exposed during their development. Here, the adult rat hippocampus was used as a source of cells for clonal culture in order to investigate the effects of the extracellular glycosaminoglycan heparan sulfate (HS). Neurospheres were readily generated from adult tissue and could be used as a source of cells for further experiments. HS species that promote the actions of fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF2) for embryonic neural progenitors were found to inhibit the actions of this mitogen for adult progenitors. Only HS fractions that promoted the actions of FGF1 had mitogenic effects on these adult cells. The adult cells proved difficult to clone from single cells. However, when endogenous HS was purified from these cells and added back at high concentration to single cells, the clones were capable of generating plentiful neuronal and glial progeny. The adult hippocampal progenitor (AHP) HS is composed of 32 kDa chains bearing 3 sulfated domains. A proportion of primary osteoblast stem cells exposed to the hippocampal HS adopt neuronal phenotypes. Hence, there appears to be a combination of HS-binding extracellular molecules that predispose cells to particular lineages.

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