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The master negative regulator REST/NRSF controls adult neurogenesis by restraining the neurogenic program in quiescent stem cells.

Transcriptional regulation is a critical mechanism in the birth, specification, and differentiation of granule neurons in the adult hippocampus. One of the first negative-acting transcriptional regulators implicated in vertebrate development is repressor element 1-silencing transcription/neuron-restrictive silencer factor (REST/NRSF)--thought to regulate hundreds of neuron-specific genes--yet its function in the adult brain remains elusive. Here we report that REST/NRSF is required to maintain the adult neural stem cell (NSC) pool and orchestrate stage-specific differentiation. REST/NRSF recruits CoREST and mSin3A corepressors to stem cell chromatin for the regulation of pro-neuronal target genes to prevent precocious neuronal differentiation in cultured adult NSCs. Moreover, mice lacking REST/NRSF specifically in NSCs display a transient increase in adult neurogenesis that leads to a loss in the neurogenic capacity of NSCs and eventually diminished granule neurons. Our work identifies REST/NRSF as a master negative regulator of adult NSC differentiation and offers a potential molecular target for neuroregenerative approaches.

Pubmed ID: 21715642


  • Gao Z
  • Ure K
  • Ding P
  • Nashaat M
  • Yuan L
  • Ma J
  • Hammer RE
  • Hsieh J


The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience

Publication Data

June 29, 2011

Associated Grants

  • Agency: NIA NIH HHS, Id: AG032383
  • Agency: NIA NIH HHS, Id: R01 AG032383
  • Agency: NIMH NIH HHS, Id: R21 MH094715
  • Agency: NIMH NIH HHS, Id: R21 MH094715-01

Mesh Terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Brain
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chromatin Immunoprecipitation
  • Immunoprecipitation
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neural Stem Cells
  • Neurogenesis
  • Neurons
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction