The central nervous system (CNS) develops from a heterogeneous pool of neural stem and progenitor cells (NSPC), the underlying differences among which are poorly understood. The study of NSPC would be greatly facilitated by the identification of additional proteins that mediate their function and that would distinguish amongst different progenitor populations.
To identify membrane and membrane-associated proteins expressed by NSPC, we used a proteomics approach to profile NSPC cultured as neurospheres (NS) isolated from the murine cortex during a period of neurogenesis (embryonic day 11.5, E11.5), as compared to NSPC isolated at a peak of gliogenesis (postnatal day 1, P0) and to differentiated E11.5 NS. 54 proteins were identified with high expression in E11.5 NS, including the TrkC receptor, several heterotrimeric G proteins, and the Neogenin receptor. 24 proteins were identified with similar expression in E11.5 and P0 NS over differentiated E11.5 NS, and 13 proteins were identified with high expression specifically in P0 NS compared to E11.5 NS. To illustrate the potential relevance of these identified proteins to neural stem cell biology, the function of Neogenin was further studied. Using Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorting (FACS) analysis, expression of Neogenin was associated with a self-renewing population present in both E11.5 and adult subventricular zone (SVZ) NS but not in P0 NS. E11.5 NS expressed a putative Neogenin ligand, RGMa, and underwent apoptosis when exposed to a ligand-blocking antibody.
There are fundamental differences between the continuously self-renewing and more limited progenitors of the developing cortex. We identified a subset of differentially expressed proteins that serve not only as a set of functionally important proteins, but as a useful set of markers for the subsequent analysis of NSPC. Neogenin is associated with the continuously self-renewing and neurogenic cells present in E11.5 cortical and adult SVZ NS, and the Neogenin/RGMa receptor/ligand pair may regulate cell survival during development.