Jennifer Su Rose Hills
Growth Factor Effects on REgulation of Neural Precursor Cell Development
Contrary to previous dogma that we are born with all the brain cells well ever have, adult neurogenesis continues to occur in the central nervous system of mammals, including humans. Neural precursor cells (NPCs) proliferate and differentiate into new neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes in response to the input from their cellular environment, termed the neurogenic niche. This niche contains astrocytes, cells that are essential players in neuronal development, synaptic physiology, and stem cell regulation. It has been discovered that the introduction of chronic stress and stress hormones, glucocorticoids (GC), cause decreases in the proliferation and neuronal fates of NPCs. We observe that GCs induce changes of expression of certain molecules, including bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) which stimulate increases in astrocytic differentiation and noggin a BMP antagonist that promotes increases in neuron formation. Thus, my project investigates the ways that changing BMP expression affects NPC behavior through astrocyte signaling in vitro. In particular, do stress-induced increases in astrocyte BMP secretion contribute to the reduction of neuronal fates in NPCs?