One of the greatest scientific discoveries of the 20th century is that the mammalian brain can give rise to new neurons throughout the lifespan. The phenomenon of adult neurogenesis raises hopes of harnessing neural stem cell for brain repair, and has sparked interest in novel roles for these new neurons, such as olfaction, spatial memory, and even regulation of mood. Traditionally, studies on adult neurogenesis have relied on exogenous markers of DNA synthesis, such as bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU), to label and track the birth of new cells. However, the exponential increase in our knowledge of endogenous markers of cycling cells has ushered in a new era of stem cell biology. Here we review the strides made in using endogenous cell cycle proteins to study adult neurogenesis in vivo. We (1) discuss the distribution of endogenous cell cycle proteins in proliferative regions of the adult mammalian brain; (2) review cell cycle phase-specific information gained from analyzing a combination of endogenous cell cycle proteins; and (3) provide data on the regulation of cell cycle proteins by a robust inhibitor of proliferation, morphine. The ability of BrdU to birthdate cells ensures it will always serve a role in studies of adult neurogenesis, thus preventing us from moving entirely ‘beyond BrdU’. However, it is hoped that this review will provide interested researchers with the tools needed to apply the powerful and relatively novel approach of analyzing endogenous cell cycle proteins to the study of stem cells in general and adult neurogenesis in particular.
Keywords: Neural stem cells, hippocampus, PCNA, Ki-67, pHisH3, S Phase, mitosis, morphine
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