Lewis X-carrying N-glycans regulate the proliferation of mouse embryonic neural stem cells via the notch signaling pathway

Hirokazu Yagi, Takuya Saito, Makoto Yanagisawa, Robert K. Yu, Koichi Kato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Neural stem cells (NSCs) possess high proliferative potential and the capacity for self-renewal with retention of multipotency to differentiate into brain-forming cells. Several signaling pathways have been shown to be involved in the fate determination process of NSCs, but the molecular mechanisms underlying the maintenance of neural cell stemness remain largely unknown. Our previous study showed that human natural killer carbohydrate epitopes expressed specifically by mouse NSCs modulate the Ras-MAPK pathway, raising the possibility of regulatory roles of glycoprotein glycans in the specific signaling pathways involved in NSC fate determination. To address this issue, we performed comparative N-glycosylation profiling of NSCs before and after differentiation in a comprehensive and quantitative manner. We found that Lewis X-carrying N-glycans were specifically displayed on undifferentiated cells, whereas paucimannose-type N-glycans were predominantly expressed on differentiated cells. Furthermore, by knocking down a fucosyltransferase 9 with short interfering RNA, we demonstrated that the Lewis X-carrying N-glycans were actively involved in the proliferation of NSCs via modulation of the expression level of Musashi-1, which is an activator of the Notch signaling pathway. Our findings suggest that Lewis X carbohydrates, which have so far been characterized as undifferentiation markers, actually operate as activators of the Notch signaling pathway for the maintenance of NSC stemness during brain development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24356-24364
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number29
StatePublished - Jul 13 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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