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Distinct phases of adult microglia proliferation: a Myc-mediated early phase and a Tnfaip3-mediated late phase.


Microgliosis is a hallmark of many neurological diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, stroke, seizure, traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, and peripheral and optic nerve injuries. Recent studies have shown that the newly self-renewed microglia have specific neurological functions. However, the mechanism of adult microglia proliferation remains largely unclear. Here, with single-cell RNA sequencing, flow cytometry, and immunohistochemistry, we demonstrate that the sciatic nerve injury induced two distinct phases of microglia proliferation in mouse spinal cord, each with different gene expression profiles. We demonstrate that the transcription factor Myc was transiently upregulated in spinal cord microglia after nerve injury to mediate an early phase microglia proliferation. On the other hand, we reveal that the tumor-necrosis factor alpha-induced protein 3 (Tnfaip3) was downregulated to mediate the Myc-independent late-phase microglia proliferation. We show that cyclin dependent kinase 1, a kinase with important function in the M phase of the cell cycle, was involved only in the early phase. We reveal that although the early phase was neither necessary nor sufficient for the late phase proliferation, the late-phase suppressed the early phase microglia proliferation in the spinal cord. Finally, we demonstrate that the termination of spinal cord microglia proliferation required both Myc and Tnfaip3 to resume their baseline expression. Thus, we have delineated an interactive signaling network in the proliferation of differentiated microglia.

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