Mammalian cells that have been committed to a certain cell lineage cannot be directed to other lineages. However, some astrocytes in the mammalian brains have been reported to represent plasticity to redirect to other cell lineages. We found that mouse hippocampal astrocytes cultured in aggregate forms of "astrosphere", redirected to MAP2-positive immature neurons. In astrospheres, basic HLH factors positively regulating neuronal differentiation were up-regulated and Id3 inhibiting basic HLH factors was down-regulated. Ectopic Id3 induction repressed redirection of astrocytes to a neuronal lineage, suggesting that astrosphere formation induced plasticity of astrocytes by changing the gene expression patterns.
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