Leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) is a key molecule in the pathogenesis of familial and idiopathic Parkinson’s disease (PD). We have identified two novel LRRK2-associated proteins, a HECT-type ubiquitin ligase, HERC2, and an adaptor-like protein with six repeated Neuralized domains, NEURL4. LRRK2 binds to NEURL4 and HERC2 via the LRRK2 Ras of complex proteins (ROC) domain and NEURL4, respectively. HERC2 and NEURL4 link LRRK2 to the cellular vesicle transport pathway and Notch signaling, through which the LRRK2 complex promotes the recycling of the Notch ligand Delta-like 1 (Dll1)/Delta (Dl) through the modulation of endosomal trafficking. This process negatively regulates Notch signaling through cis-inhibition by stabilizing Dll1/Dl, which accelerates neural stem cell differentiation and modulates the function and survival of differentiated dopaminergic neurons. These effects are strengthened by the R1441G ROC domain-mutant of LRRK2. These findings suggest that the alteration of Notch signaling in mature neurons is a component of PD etiology linked to LRRK2.
LRRK2 is linked to autosomal dominant late-onset Parkinson’s disease, suggesting that LRRK2 gain-of-function mutations lead to age-dependent degeneration of the midbrain dopaminergic neurons. In this study, we describe two novel LRRK2-associated proteins HERC2 and NEURL4, which are a ubiquitin ligase and an adaptor-like protein, respectively. HERC2 and NEURL4 direct LRRK2 to Notch signaling pathway, in which the LRRK2-NEURL4-HERC2 complex promotes the recycling of the Notch ligand Delta-like 1 (Dll1)/Delta (Dl) through the modulation of endosomal trafficking. As a result, the amounts of Dll1/D1 on the plasma membrane are increased, which affects negatively Notch signaling through cis-inhibition. The effect is enhanced by a Parkinson’s-disease associated mutation of LRRK2. Inhibition of Notch signaling in adult dopaminergic neurons impairs its functions and survival. These findings indicate a possible link between Notch pathway and Parkinson’s disease.
In the adult pancreas, there has been a long-standing dispute as to whether stem/precursor populations that retain plasticity to differentiate into endocrine or acinar cell types exist in ducts. We previously reported that adult Sox9-expressing duct cells are sufficiently plastic to supply new acinar cells in Sox9-IRES-CreERT2 knock-in mice. In the present study, using Sox9-IRES-CreERT2 knock-in mice as a model, we aimed to analyze how plasticity is controlled in adult ducts. Adult duct cells in these mice express less Sox9 than do wild-type mice but Hes1 equally. Acinar cell differentiation was accelerated by Hes1 inactivation, but suppressed by NICD induction in adult Sox9-expressing cells. Quantitative analyses showed that Sox9 expression increased with the induction of NICD but did not change with Hes1 inactivation, suggesting that Notch regulates Hes1 and Sox9 in parallel. Taken together, these findings suggest that Hes1-mediated Notch activity determines the plasticity of adult pancreatic duct cells and that there may exist a dosage requirement of Sox9 for keeping the duct cell identity in the adult pancreas. In contrast to the extended capability of acinar cell differentiation by Hes1 inactivation, we obtained no evidence of islet neogenesis from Hes1-depleted duct cells in physiological or PDL-induced injured conditions.
The basic-helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factors Ascl1/Mash1, Hes1, and Olig2 regulate the fate choice of neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes, respectively; however, these factors are coexpressed in self-renewing multipotent neural stem cells (NSCs) even before cell fate determination. This fact raises the possibility that these fate determination factors are differentially expressed between self-renewing and differentiating NSCs with unique expression dynamics. Real-time imaging analysis utilizing fluorescent proteins is a powerful strategy for monitoring expression dynamics. Fusion with fluorescent reporters makes it possible to analyze the dynamic behavior of specific proteins in living cells. However, it is technically challenging to conduct long-term imaging of proteins, particularly those with low expression levels, because a high-sensitivity and low-noise imaging system is required, and very often bleaching of fluorescent proteins and cell toxicity by prolonged laser exposure are problematic. Furthermore, to analyze the functional roles of the dynamic expression of cellular proteins, it is essential to image reporter fusion proteins that are expressed at comparable levels to their endogenous expression. In this review, we introduce our recent reports about the dynamic control of bHLH transcription factors in multipotency and fate choice of NSCs, focusing on real-time imaging of fluorescent reporters fused with bHLH transcription factors. Our imaging results indicate that bHLH transcription factors are expressed in an oscillatory manner by NSCs, and that one of them becomes dominant during fate choice. We propose that the multipotent state of NSCs correlates with the oscillatory expression of several bHLH transcription factors, whereas the differentiated state correlates with the sustained expression of a single bHLH transcription factor.
bHLH; neural stem cells; oscillation; fluorescent protein; imaging
Biological clocks play key roles in organismal development, homeostasis and function. In recent years, much work has focused on circadian clocks, but emerging studies have highlighted the existence of ultradian oscillators – those with a much shorter periodicity than 24 h. Accumulating evidence, together with recently developed optogenetic approaches, suggests that such ultradian oscillators play important roles during cell fate decisions, and analyzing the functional links between ultradian oscillation and cell fate determination will contribute to a deeper understanding of the design principle of developing embryos. In this Review, we discuss the mechanisms of ultradian oscillatory dynamics and introduce examples of ultradian oscillators in various biological contexts. We also discuss how optogenetic technology has been used to elucidate the biological significance of ultradian oscillations.
Negative feedback; Optogenetics; Ultradian oscillator; Systems biology
Huntington's disease (HD) is a neurodegenerative disease characterized in part by the loss of striatopallidal medium spiny projection neurons (MSNs). Expression of BDNF and noggin via intracerebroventricular (ICV) delivery in an adenoviral vector triggers the addition of new neurons to the neostriatum. In this study, we found that a single ICV injection of the adeno-associated viruses AAV4-BDNF and AAV4-noggin triggered the sustained recruitment of new MSNs in both wild-type and R6/2 mice, a model of HD. Mice treated with AAV4-BDNF/noggin, or with BDNF and noggin proteins, actively recruited subependymal progenitor cells to form new MSNs that matured and achieved circuit integration. Importantly, the AAV4-BDNF/noggin-treated R6/2 mice showed delayed deterioration of motor function and substantially increased survival. In addition, squirrel monkeys given ICV injections of AAV4-BDNF/noggin showed similar addition of striatal neurons. Induced neuronal addition may therefore represent a promising avenue for disease amelioration in HD.
Adult neurogenesis; AAV4; subependyma; gene therapy; Huntington's disease
The olfactory bulb (OB) is the first central processing center for olfactory information connecting with higher areas in the brain, and this neuronal circuitry mediates a variety of odor-evoked behavioral responses. In the adult mammalian brain, continuous neurogenesis occurs in two restricted regions, the subventricular zone (SVZ) of the lateral ventricle and the hippocampal dentate gyrus. New neurons born in the SVZ migrate through the rostral migratory stream and are integrated into the neuronal circuits of the OB throughout life. The significance of this continuous supply of new neurons in the OB has been implicated in plasticity and memory regulation. Two decades of huge investigation in adult neurogenesis revealed the biological importance of integration of new neurons into the olfactory circuits. In this review, we highlight the recent findings about the physiological functions of newly generated neurons in rodent OB circuits and then discuss the contribution of neurogenesis in the brain function. Finally, we introduce cutting edge technologies to monitor and manipulate the activity of new neurons.
neurogenesis; main olfactory bulb; accessory olfactory bulb; granule cell; periglomerular cell; lateral inhibition; behavior; neural stem cell
Hes1 is required for the development of hematopoietic stem cells in the mouse embryo through repression of Gata2.
Previous studies have identified Notch as a key regulator of hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) development, but the underlying downstream mechanisms remain unknown. The Notch target Hes1 is widely expressed in the aortic endothelium and hematopoietic clusters, though Hes1-deficient mice show no overt hematopoietic abnormalities. We now demonstrate that Hes is required for the development of HSC in the mouse embryo, a function previously undetected as the result of functional compensation by de novo expression of Hes5 in the aorta/gonad/mesonephros (AGM) region of Hes1 mutants. Analysis of embryos deficient for Hes1 and Hes5 reveals an intact arterial program with overproduction of nonfunctional hematopoietic precursors and total absence of HSC activity. These alterations were associated with increased expression of the hematopoietic regulators Runx1, c-myb, and the previously identified Notch target Gata2. By analyzing the Gata2 locus, we have identified functional RBPJ-binding sites, which mutation results in loss of Gata2 reporter expression in transgenic embryos, and functional Hes-binding sites, which mutation leads to specific Gata2 up-regulation in the hematopoietic precursors. Together, our findings show that Notch activation in the AGM triggers Gata2 and Hes1 transcription, and next HES-1 protein represses Gata2, creating an incoherent feed-forward loop required to restrict Gata2 expression in the emerging HSCs.
Cell diversity and organization in the neural tube depend on the integration of extrinsic signals acting along orthogonal axes. These are believed to specify distinct cellular identities by triggering all-or-none changes in expression of combinations of transcription factors . Under the influence of a common dorsoventral signal, sonic hedgehog, and distinct anterior-posterior (A-P) inductive signals [2, 3], two topographically related progenitor pools that share a common transcriptional code produce serotonergic and V3 neurons in the hindbrain and spinal cord, respectively [4–7]. These neurons have different physiological properties, functions, and connectivity [8, 9]. Serotonergic involvement in neuropsychiatric diseases has prompted greater characterization of their postmitotic repertoire of fate determinants, which include Gata2, Lmx1b, and Pet1 , whereas V3 neurons express Sim1 . How distinct serotonergic and V3 neuronal identities emerge from progenitors that share a common transcriptional code is not understood. Here, we show that changes in retinoid activity in these two progenitor pools determine their fates. Retinoids, via Notch signaling, control the expression level in progenitors of the transcription factor Ascl1, which selects serotonergic and V3 neuronal identities in a dose-dependent manner. Therefore, quantitative differences in the expression of a single component of a transcriptional code can select distinct cell fates.
► Graded Ascl1 expression in the neural tube specifies distinct neuronal subtypes ► Retinoid activity and Ascl1 expression are inversely correlated ► Binary differences in retinoid signaling regulate graded Ascl1 expression via Notch ► Dose-dependent effects of Ascl1 explains regional segregation of neuronal subtypes
The mouse segmentation is established from somites, which are iteratively induced every two hours from the presomitic mesoderm (PSM) by a system known as the segmentation clock. A crucial component of the segmentation clock is the gene Hes7, which is regulated by the Notch and Fgf/Mapk pathways, but its relation to other pathways is unknown. In addition, chemical alteration of the Wnt pathway changes the segmentation clock period but the mechanism is unclear.
To clarify these questions, we have carried out Hes7 promoter analysis in transgenic mouse embryos and have identified an essential 400 bp region, which contains binding sites of Tbx6 and the Wnt signaling effector Lef1. We have found that the Hes7 promoter is activated by Tbx6, and normal activity of the Hes7 promoter in the mouse PSM requires Tbx6 binding sites. Our results demonstrate that Wnt pathway molecules activate the Hes7 promoter cooperatively with Tbx6 in cell culture and are necessary for its proper expression in the mouse PSM. Furthermore, it is shown that the chemical Gsk3 inhibitor LiCl lengthens the oscillatory period of Hes7 promoter activity.
Our data suggest that Tbx6 and the Wnt pathway cooperatively regulate proper Hes7 expression. Furthermore, proper Hes7 promoter activity and expression is important for the normal pace of oscillation.
Notch signaling plays crucial roles in fate determination and the differentiation of neural stem cells in embryonic and adult brains. It is now clear that the notch pathway is under more complex and dynamic regulation than previously thought. To understand the functional details of notch signaling more precisely, it is important to reveal when, where, and how notch signaling is dynamically communicated between cells, for which the visualization of notch signaling is essential. In this review, we introduce recent technical advances in the visualization of notch signaling during neural development and in the adult brain, and we discuss the physiological significance of dynamic regulation of notch signaling.
Notch; NICD; Hes; Hey; Neurogenesis; Adult neurogenesis; Fluorescent reporter; Luciferase reporter
Embryonic stem (ES) cells can differentiate into multiple types of cells belonging to all three germ layers. Although ES cells are clonally established, they display heterogeneous responses upon the induction of differentiation, resulting in a mixture of various types of differentiated cells. Our recent reports have shown that Hes1 regulates the fate choice of ES cells by repressing Notch signaling, and that the oscillatory expression of Hes1 contributes to various differentiation responses in ES cells. Here we discuss the mechanism regulating the intracellular dynamics in ES cells and how to trigger the lineage choice from pluripotent ES cells.
ES cell; heterogeneity; differentiation; Hes1; oscillation
Although mammalian neurogenesis is mostly completed by the perinatal period, new neurons are continuously generated in the subventricular zone of the lateral ventricle and the subgranular zone of the hippocampal dentate gyrus. Since the discovery of adult neurogenesis, many extensive studies have been performed on various aspects of adult neurogenesis, including proliferation and fate-specification of adult neural stem cells, and the migration, maturation and synaptic integration of newly born neurons. Furthermore, recent research has shed light on the intensive contribution of adult neurogenesis to olfactory-related and hippocampus-mediated brain functions. The field of adult neurogenesis progressed tremendously thanks to technical advances that facilitate the identification and selective manipulation of newly born neurons among billions of pre-existing neurons in the adult central nervous system. In this review, we introduce recent advances in the methodologies for visualizing newly generated neurons and manipulating neurogenesis in the adult brain. Particularly, the application of site-specific recombinases and Tet inducible system in combination with transgenic or gene targeting strategy is discussed in further detail.
adult neurogenesis; neural stem cells; Cre/loxP; CreERT2; transgenic mice; nestin
In neural stem/progenitor cells, expression of the Notch effector Hes1, a transcriptional repressor, oscillates with a period of 2–3 h by negative feedback, and Hes1 oscillations induce the oscillatory expression of the proneural gene Neurogenin2 (Ngn2) and the Notch ligand gene Delta-like1 (Dll1). Dll1 oscillation leads to the mutual activation of Notch signaling between neighboring cells, thereby maintaining a group of cells in the undifferentiated state. Not all cells express Hes1 in an oscillatory manner: cells in boundary regions such as the isthmus express Hes1 in a sustained manner, and these cells are rather dormant with regard to proliferation and differentiation. Thus, Hes1 allows cell proliferation and differentiation when its expression oscillates but induces dormancy when its expression is sustained. After Hes1 expression is repressed, Ngn2 is expressed in a sustained manner, promoting neuronal differentiation. Thus, Ngn2 leads to the maintenance of neural stem/progenitor cells by inducing Dll1 oscillation when its expression oscillates but to neuronal differentiation when its expression is sustained. These results indicate that the different dynamics of Hes1 and Ngn2 lead to different outcomes.
basal progenitor; neuroepithelial cell; oscillatory expression; OSVZ progenitor; proneural gene; radial glia
Retinal stem cells (RSCs) are present in the ciliary margin of the adult human eye and can give rise to all retinal cell types. Here we show that modulation of retinal transcription factor gene expression in human RSCs greatly enriches photoreceptor progeny, and that strong enrichment was obtained with the combined transduction of OTX2 and CRX together with the modulation of CHX10. When these genetically modified human RSC progeny are transplanted into mouse eyes, their retinal integration and differentiation is superior to unmodified RSC progeny. Moreover, electrophysiologic and behavioral tests show that these transplanted cells promote functional recovery in transducin mutant mice. This study suggests that gene modulation in human RSCs may provide a source of photoreceptor cells for the treatment of photoreceptor disease.
Retinal stem cells; Photoreceptor; Regeneration
Toll-like receptor (TLR) responses are regulated to avoid toxicity and achieve coordinated responses appropriate for the cell environment. We found that Notch and TLR pathways cooperated to activate canonical Notch target genes, including transcriptional repressors Hes1 and Hey1, and to increase production of canonical TLR-induced cytokines TNF, IL-6 and IL-12. Cooperation by these pathways to increase target gene expression was mediated the Notch pathway component and transcription factor RBP-J, which also contributed to lethality after endotoxin injection. TLR- and Notch-induced Hes1 and Hey1 attenuated IL-6 and IL-12 production. This Hes1- and Hey1-mediated feedback inhibitory loop was abrogated by interferon-γ (IFN-γ), which blocked TLR-induced activation of canonical Notch target genes by inhibiting Notch2 signaling and downstream transcription. These findings identify new immune functions for RBP-J, Hes and Hey proteins and provide insights into mechanisms by which Notch, TLR and IFN-γ signals are integrated to modulate specific effector functions in macrophages.
Sonic hedgehog (Shh) is an indispensable, extrinsic cue that regulates progenitor and stem cell behavior in the developing and adult mammalian central nervous system. Here, we investigate the link between the Shh signaling pathway and Hes1, a classical Notch target. We show that Shh-driven stabilization of Hes1 is independent of Notch signaling and requires the Shh effector Gli2. We identify Gli2 as a primary mediator of this response by showing that Gli2 is required for Hh (Hedgehog)-dependent up-regulation of Hes1. We also show using chromatin immunoprecipitation that Gli2 binds to the Hes1 promoter, which suggests that Hes1 is a Hh-dependent direct target of Gli2 signaling. Finally, we show that Shh stimulation of progenitor proliferation and cell diversification requires Gli2 and Hes1 activity. This paper is the first demonstration of the mechanistic and functional link between Shh, Gli, and Hes1 in the regulation of progenitor cell behavior.
Establishment and maintenance of a functional central nervous system (CNS) requires a highly orchestrated process of neural progenitor cell proliferation, cell cycle exit, and differentiation. An evolutionary conserved program consisting of Notch signalling mediated by basic Helix-Loop-Helix (bHLH) transcription factor activity is necessary for both the maintenance of neural progenitor cell character and the progression of neurogenesis; however, additional players in mammalian CNS neural specification remain largely unknown. In Drosophila we recently characterized Hamlet, a transcription factor that mediates Notch signalling and neural cell fate.
Hamlet is a member of the Prdm (PRDI-BF1 and RIZ homology domain containing) proto-oncogene transcription factor family, and in this study we report that multiple genes in the Prdm family (Prdm6, 8, 12, 13 and 16) are expressed in the developing mouse CNS in a spatially and temporally restricted manner. In developing spinal cord Prdm8, 12 and 13 are expressed in precise neuronal progenitor zones suggesting that they may specify discrete neuronal subtypes. In developing telencephalon Prdm12 and 16 are expressed in the ventricular zone in a lateral to medial graded manner, and Prdm8 is expressed in a complementary domain in postmitotic neurons. In postnatal brain Prdm8 additionally shows restricted expression in cortical layers 2/3 and 4, the hippocampus, and the amygdala. To further elucidate roles of Prdm8 and 16 in the developing telencephalon we analyzed the relationship between these factors and the bHLH Hes (Hairy and enhancer of split homolog) effectors of Notch signalling. In Hes null telencephalon neural differentiation is enhanced, Prdm8 expression is upregulated, and Prdm16 expression is downregulated; conversely in utero electroporation of Hes1 into the developing telencephalon upregulates Prdm16 expression.
Our data demonstrate that Prdm genes are regulated by the Notch-Hes pathway and represent strong candidates to control neural class specification and the sequential progression of mammalian CNS neurogenesis.
Vertebrae and other mammalian repetitive structures are formed from embryonic organs called somites. Somites arise sequentially from the unsegmented presomitic mesoderm (PSM). In mice, a new bilateral pair of somites arise every two hours from the rostral PSM. On the other hand, cells are added to the caudal side of the PSM due to cell proliferation of the tail bud. Somite formation correlates with cycles of cell-autonomous expression in the PSM of genes like Hes7. Because the somitogenesis is a highly dynamic and coordinated process, this event has been subjected to extensive theoretical modeling. Here, we describe the current understanding about the somitogenesis in mouse embryos with an emphasis on insights gained from computer simulations. It is worth noting that the combination of experiments and computer simulations has uncovered dynamical properties of the somitogenesis clock such as the transcription/translation delays, the half-life and the synchronization mechanism across the PSM. Theoretical models have also been useful to provide predictions and rigorous hypothesis about poorly understood processes such as the mechanisms by which the temporal PSM oscillations are arrested and converted into an spatial pattern. We aim at reviewing this theoretical literature in such a way that experimentalists might appreciate the resulting conclusions.
Theoretical models; mouse somitogenesis; Hes7 oscillation; Notch signaling; Fgf signaling; Wnt signaling
Melanoblasts (Mbs) are thought to be strictly regulated by cell–cell interactions with epidermal keratinocytes, although the precise molecular mechanism of the regulation has been elusive. Notch signaling, whose activation is mediated by cell–cell interactions, is implicated in a broad range of developmental processes. We demonstrate the vital role of Notch signaling in the maintenance of Mbs, as well as melanocyte stem cells (MSCs). Conditional ablation of Notch signaling in the melanocyte lineage leads to a severe defect in hair pigmentation, followed by intensive hair graying. The defect is caused by a dramatic elimination of Mbs and MSCs. Furthermore, targeted overexpression of Hes1 is sufficient to protect Mbs from the elimination by apoptosis. Thus, these data provide evidence that Notch signaling, acting through Hes1, plays a crucial role in the survival of immature Mbs by preventing initiation of apoptosis.
Ectopic pancreas is a developmental anomaly occasionally found in humans. Hes1, a main effector of Notch signaling, regulates the fate and differentiation of many cell types during development. To gain insights into the role of the Notch pathway in pancreatic fate determination, we combined the use of Hes1-knockout mice and lineage tracing employing the Cre/loxP system to specifically mark pancreatic precursor cells and their progeny in Ptf1a-cre and Rosa26 reporter mice. We show that inactivation of Hes1 induces misexpression of Ptf1a in discrete regions of the primitive stomach and duodenum and throughout the common bile duct. All ectopic Ptf1a-expressing cells were reprogrammed, or transcommitted, to multipotent pancreatic progenitor status and subsequently differentiated into mature pancreatic exocrine, endocrine, and duct cells. This process recapitulated normal pancreatogenesis in terms of morphological and genetic features. Furthermore, analysis of Hes1/Ptf1a double mutants revealed that ectopic Ptf1a-cre lineage–labeled cells adopted the fate of region-appropriate gut epithelium or endocrine cells similarly to Ptf1a-inactivated cells in the native pancreatic buds. Our data demonstrate that the Hes1-mediated Notch pathway is required for region-appropriate specification of pancreas in the developing foregut endoderm through regulation of Ptf1a expression, providing novel insight into the pathogenesis of ectopic pancreas development in a mouse model.
A transcriptional regulator, Hes1, plays crucial roles in the control of differentiation and proliferation of neuronal, endocrine, and T-lymphocyte progenitors during development. Mechanisms for the regulation of cell proliferation by Hes1, however, remain to be verified. In embryonic carcinoma cells, endogenous Hes1 expression was repressed by retinoic acid in concord with enhanced p27Kip1 expression and cell cycle arrest. Conversely, conditional expression of a moderate but not maximal level of Hes1 in HeLa cells by a tetracycline-inducible system resulted in reduced p27Kip1 expression, which was attributed to decreased basal transcript rather than enhanced proteasomal degradation, with concomitant increases in the growth rate and saturation density. Hes1 induction repressed the promoter activity of a 5′ flanking basal enhancer region of p27Kip1 gene in a manner dependent on Hes1 expression levels, and this was mediated by its binding to class C sites in the promoter region. Finally, hypoplastic fetal thymi, as well as livers and brains of Hes1-deficient mice, showed significantly increased p27Kip1 transcripts compared with those of control littermates. These results have suggested that Hes1 directly contributes to the promotion of progenitor cell proliferation through transcriptional repression of a cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor, p27Kip1.
Hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) is essential for vascular development during embryogenesis and pathogenesis. However, little is known about its role in brain development. To investigate the function of HIF-1α in the central nervous system, a conditional knockout mouse was made with the Cre/LoxP system with a nestin promoter-driven Cre. Neural cell-specific HIF-1α-deficient mice exhibit hydrocephalus accompanied by a reduction in neural cells and an impairment of spatial memory. Apoptosis of neural cells coincided with vascular regression in the telencephalon of mutant embryos, and these embryonic defects were successfully restored by in vivo gene delivery of HIF-1α to the embryos. These results showed that expression of HIF-1α in neural cells was essential for normal development of the brain and established a mouse model that would be useful for the evaluation of therapeutic strategies for ischemia, including hypoxia-mediated hydrocephalus.
Embryonic stem (ES) cells display heterogeneous responses upon induction of differentiation. Recent analysis has shown that Hes1 expression oscillates with a period of about 3–5 h in mouse ES cells and that this oscillating expression contributes to the heterogeneous responses: Hes1-high ES cells are prone to the mesodermal fate, while Hes1-low ES cells are prone to the neural fate. These outcomes of Hes1-high and Hes1-low ES cells are very similar to those of inactivation and activation of Notch signaling, respectively. These results suggest that Hes1 and Notch signaling lead to opposite outcomes in ES cell differentiation, although they work in the same direction in most other cell types. Here, we found that Hes1 acts as an inhibitor but not as an effector of Notch signaling in ES cell differentiation. Our results indicate that sustained Hes1 expression delays the differentiation of ES cells and promotes the preference for the mesodermal rather than the neural fate by suppression of Notch signaling.