In the adult rodent brain, constitutive neurogenesis occurs in two restricted regions, the subventricular zone (SVZ) of the lateral ventricle and the subgranular zone of the hippocampal dentate gyrus, where multipotent neural stem/progenitor cells generate new neurons. Using Western blotting and immunohistochemistry for established markers, we demonstrated that the expression of 3-phosphoglycerate dehydrogenase (Phgdh), an enzyme involved in de novo synthesis of l-serine, was upregulated in the SVZ. The expression was selective to cells having morphological features and expressing markers of astrocyte-like primary neural stem cells (type B cells) and their progeny, actively proliferating progenitors (type C cells). By contrast, Phgdh protein expression was virtually absent in committed neuronal precursors (type A cells) derived from type C cells. High levels of Phgdh were also expressed by glial tube cells located in the rostral migratory stream (RMS). Interestingly, ensheathment of type A cells by these Phgdh-expressing cells was persistent in the SVZ and RMS, suggesting that l-serine mediates trophic support for type A cells via these glial cells. In vitro neurosphere assays confirmed that growth-factor-responsive, transient amplifying neural progenitors in the SVZ, but not differentiated neurons, expressed Phgdh. In the aged brain, a decline in Phgdh expression was evident in type B and C cells of the SVZ. These observations support the notion that availability of l-serine within neural stem/progenitor cells may be a critical factor for neurogenesis in developing and adult brain.
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