Neural stem cells (NSCs) are undifferentiated neural cells characterized by their high proliferative potential and the capacity for self-renewal with retention of multipotency. Over the past two decades, there has been a huge effort to identify NSCs morphologically, genetically, and molecular biologically. It is still controversial, however, what bona fide NSCs are. To define and characterize NSCs more systematically, it is crucial to explore novel cell-surface marker molecules of NSCs. In this study, we focused on GD3, a b-series ganglioside that is enriched in the immature brain and the subventricular zone (SVZ) of the postnatal and adult brain, and evaluated the usefulness of GD3 as a cell-surface biomarker for identifying NSCs. We demonstrated that GD3 was expressed in more than 80% of NSCs prepared from embryonic, postnatal, and adult mouse brain tissue by the neurosphere culture method. The percentage of GD3-expressing NSCs in neurospheres was nearly the same as it was in neurospheres derived from embryonic, postnatal, and adult brains but decreased drastically to about 40% after differentiation. GD3+ cells isolated from embryonic mouse striata, postnatal, and adult mouse SVZs by fluorescence-activated cell sorting with an R24 anti-GD3 monoclonal antibody efficiently generated neurospheres compared with GD3- cells. These cells possessed multipotency to differentiate into neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes. These data indicate that GD3 is a unique and powerful cell-surface biomarker to identify and isolate NSCs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas