Hippocampal neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus (DG) is controlled by diffusible molecules that modulate neurogenic processes, including cell proliferation, differentiation and survival. To elucidate the mechanisms underlying hippocampal neurogenesis, we investigated the function of draxin, originally identified as a neural chemorepellent, in the regulation of neuronal survival in the DG. Draxin was expressed in Tbr2 (+) late progenitors and NeuroD1 (+) neuroblasts in the dentate granule cell lineage, whereas expression of its receptor DCC (deleted in colorectal cancer) was mainly detectable in neuroblasts. Our phenotypic analysis revealed that draxin deficiency led to enhanced apoptosis of DCC-expressing neuroblasts in the neurogenic areas. Furthermore, in vitro assays using a hippocampal neural stem/progenitor cell (HNSPC) line indicated that draxin inhibited apoptosis in differentiating HNSPCs, which express DCC. Taken together, we postulate that draxin plays a pivotal role in postnatal DG neurogenesis as a dependence receptor ligand for DCC to maintain and promote survival of neuroblasts.
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