Wnt/beta-catenin signalling is dispensable for adult neural stem cell homeostasis and activation

Austin SHL, Harris L, Paun O, Rigo P, Guillemot F, Urbán N.
Preprint from
29 December 2020
Adult mouse hippocampal neural stem cells (NSCs) generate new neurons that integrate into existing hippocampal networks and modulate mood and memory. These NSCs are largely quiescent and are stimulated by niche signals to activate and produce neurons. Wnt/β-catenin signalling acts at different steps along the hippocampal neurogenic lineage and has been shown to promote the proliferation of intermediate progenitor cells. However, whether it has a direct role in the regulation of NSCs still remains unclear. Here we used Wnt/β-catenin reporters and transcriptomic data from in vivo and in vitro models to show that both active and quiescent adult NSCs respond to Wnt/β-catenin signalling. Wnt/β-catenin stimulation instructed neuronal differentiation of active NSCs and promoted the activation or differentiation of quiescent NSCs in a dose-dependent manner. However, we found that inhibiting NSCs response to Wnt, by conditionally deleting β-catenin, did not affect their activation or maintenance of their stem cell characteristics. Together, our results indicate that whilst NSCs do respond to Wnt/β-catenin stimulation in a dose-dependent and state-specific manner, Wnt/β-catenin signalling is not cell-autonomously required to maintain NSC homeostasis, which could reconcile some of the contradictions in the literature as to the role of Wnt/β-catenin signalling in adult hippocampal NSCs.