Neural Stem Cells, Excited

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  29 Mar 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6127, pp. 1534-1535
DOI: 10.1126/science.1237576

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution


Although the brain is generally considered a terminally differentiated organ, new nerve cells are made every day through a process called “adult neurogenesis,” which occurs in specialized regions like the hippocampal dentate gyrus (1). Stem cells in the brain sample electrical signals (activity) from neighboring neurons, deciding which genes to express and which signaling pathways to launch toward developing their own neuronal identity. Why would stem cells be able to respond to exogenous neuronal electrical activity, which can be considered a highly specialized function? Indeed, it seems counterintuitive insofar as one of the defining functions of all stem cells is to actively maintain the undifferentiated state.