Letters to Nature

Nature 412, 736-739 (16 August 2001) | doi:10.1038/35089085; Received 21 March 2001; Accepted 29 June 2001

Purification of a pluripotent neural stem cell from the adult mouse brain

Rodney L. Rietze1, Helen Valcanis2, Gordon F. Brooker1, Tim Thomas1, Anne K. Voss1 & Perry F. Bartlett1

  1. The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Royal Parade, Parkville, Victoria 3050, Australia
  2. Howard Florey Institute, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3010, Australia

Correspondence to: Perry F. Bartlett1 Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to P.F.B. (e-mail: Email: bartlett@wehi.edu.au).


The adult mammalian central nervous system (CNS) contains a population of neural stem cells (NSCs)1, 2, 3, 4 with properties said to include the generation of non-neural progeny5, 6, 7. However, the precise identity, location and potential of the NSC in situ remain unclear. We purified NSCs from the adult mouse brain by flow cytometry, and directly examined the cells' properties. Here we show that one type of NSC, which expresses the protein nestin but only low levels of PNA-binding and HSA proteins, is found in both ependymal and subventricular zones and accounts for about 63% of the total NSC activity. Furthermore, the selective depletion of the population of this stem cell in querkopf 8 mutant mice (which are deficient in production of olfactory neurons) suggests that it acts as a major functional stem cell in vivo. Most freshly isolated NSCs, when co-cultured with a muscle cell line, rapidly differentiated in vitro into myocytes that contain myosin heavy chain (MyHC). This demonstrates that a predominant, functional type of stem cell exists in the periventricular region of the adult brain with the intrinsic ability to generate neural and non-neural cells.