A new co-authored publication by neuroscientists from the IEM CAS provides a comprehensive view of plasticity and neurogenesis of NG2 glia

PublicationResearch Published on 30. 10. 2023 Reading time Reading time: 3 minutes

Scientists from the Department of Cellular Neurophysiology have published a new study in the scientific journal Glia. The first authors of the paper are Tomáš Knotek and Lucie Janečková (IMG CAS), and Ján Kriška, Zuzana Heřmanová, Denisa Kirdajová, Jana Turečková, Sara Camacho Garcia and Miroslava Anděrová also participated in the publication.

The study, entitled “Astrocyte-like subpopulation of NG2 glia in the adult mouse cortex exhibits characteristics of neural progenitor cells”(open in a new window) focused on the research of NG2 glia, which plays a crucial role in the functioning of the healthy brain, yet their ability to differentiate following ischemic injury needs to be better understood.

This study aimed to investigate the properties and functions of NG2 glia in the ischemic brain. Scientists selectively labelled NG2-expressing cells and their progeny in both healthy brains and following focal cerebral ischemia (FCI) using transgenic mice. Using single-cell RNA sequencing, they classified the labelled glial cells into five distinct subpopulations based on their gene expression patterns.

Additionally, scientists examined the membrane properties of these cells using the patch-clamp technique. Of the identified subpopulations, three were identified as precursor cells, whereas the fourth subpopulation had characteristics indicative of cells likely to develop into oligodendrocytes. The fifth subpopulation of NG2 glia showed astrocytic markers and had similarities to neural progenitor cells.

Interestingly, this subpopulation was present in both healthy and post-ischemic tissue; however, its gene expression profile changed following ischemia, with an increased number of genes related to neurogenesis. Immunohistochemical analysis confirmed the temporal expression of neurogenic genes. It showed an increased presence of NG2 cells positive for Purkinje cell protein-4 at the periphery of the ischemic lesion 12 days after FCI and NeuN-positive NG2 cells 28 and 60 days after injury.

These results suggest the potential development of neuron-like cells arising from NG2 glia in the ischemic tissue. The study provides insights into the plasticity of NG2 glia and their capacity for neurogenesis following stroke.