Epigenetic Repression in the Context of Adult Neurogenesis
Neural stem progenitor cells (NSPCs) in the mammalian brain contribute to life-long neurogenesis and brain health. Adult mammalian neurogenesis primarily occurs in the subventricular zone (SVZ) and the subgranular zone (SGZ) of the dentate gyrus. Epigenetic repression is a crucial regulator of cell fate specification during adult neurogenesis. How epigenetic repression impacts adult neurogenesis and how epigenetic dysregulation may impact neoplasia or tumorigenesis remains poorly understood. Examination of epigenetic regulation in the adult mammalian brain is complicated by the heterogeneous nature of neurogenic niches and by the highly orchestrated fate specification processes within neural stem progenitor cells involving myriad intrinsic and extrinsic factors. To overcome these challenges, we utilized a cross-species approach. To model histone modifications as they exist in vivo for epigenetic profiling, we isolated neural stem progenitor cells from the adult SVZ and SGZ of non-human primate baboon brains. To determine cellular and molecular changes within the adult SVZ and SGZ following loss of epigenetic repression, we utilized multiple mouse models, including conditional Ezh2 and Suv4-20h1 knockouts. To model the non-cell type specific effects common to small molecule screening and brain chemotherapeutic agents, induction of conditional knockout utilized a recombinant Cre protein. Finally, to model epigenetic mechanisms during SVZ-associated glioblastoma (GBM) tumorigenesis, we conducted comparative analysis between healthy NSPCs and GBM specimens from humans. The convergence of baboon, mouse and human models of adult neurogenesis revealed that epigenetic repression is a critical mechanism regulating proper neural cell fate and that epigenetic dysregulation may be a driver of GBM.