A characteristic feature of neurogenic sites in the postnatal brain is the expression of the polysialylated forms of the neural cell adhesion molecule (PSA-NCAM). To investigate the role of PSA-NCAM in generation of neuronal populations, we developed an in vitro model where neurogenesis occurs in primary cortical cultures following serum withdrawal. We show that removal or inactivation of the PSA tail of NCAM in these cultures leads to a significant decrease in the number of newly generated neurons. Similarly, cultures prepared from NCAM knock-out mice exhibit a significantly reduced neurogenesis. Pulse-chase experiments using the proliferation marker BrdU reveal that the lack of PSA does not affect the mitotic rate of neural progenitors but rather, it reduces the early survival of newly generated neurons. These results suggest that, in addition to its role in the migration of neuronal progenitors, PSA-NCAM is required for the adequate survival of these cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience