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Matrix regulators in neural stem cell functions



Neural stem/progenitor cells (NSPCs) reside within a complex and dynamic extracellular microenvironment, or niche. This niche regulates fundamental aspects of their behavior during normal neural development and repair. Precise yet dynamic regulation of NSPC self-renewal, migration, and differentiation is critical and must persist over the life of an organism.

Scope of review

In this review, we summarize some of the major components of the NSPC niche and provide examples of how cues from the extracellular matrix regulate NSPC behaviors. We use proteoglycans to illustrate the many diverse roles of the niche in providing temporal and spatial regulation of cellular behavior.

Major conclusions

The NSPC niche is comprised of multiple components that include; soluble ligands, such as growth factors, morphogens, chemokines, and neurotransmitters, the extracellular matrix, and cellular components. As illustrated by proteoglycans, a major component of the extracellular matrix, the NSPC, niche provides temporal and spatial regulation of NSPC behaviors.

General significance

The factors that control NSPC behavior are vital to understand as we attempt to modulate normal neural development and repair. Furthermore, an improved understanding of how these factors regulate cell proliferation, migration, and differentiation, crucial for malignancy, may reveal novel anti-tumor strategies. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Matrix-mediated cell behaviour and properties.

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