Membrane properties of rat embryonic multipotent neural stem cells


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Katsutoshi Furukawa, LNS, GRC, NIA/NIH, 5600 Nathan Shock Dr., Baltimore, MD 21224, USA. E-mail:


We have characterized several potential stem cell markers and defined the membrane properties of rat fetal (E10.5) neural stem cells (NSC) by immunocytochemistry, electrophysiology and microarray analysis. Immunocytochemical analysis demonstrates specificity of expression of Sox1, ABCG2/Bcrp1, and shows that nucleostemin labels both progenitor and stem cell populations. NSCs, like hematopoietic stem cells, express high levels of aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) as assessed by Aldefluor labeling. Microarray analysis of 96 transporters and channels showed that Glucose transporter 1 (Glut1/Slc2a1) expression is unique to fetal NSCs or other differentiated cells. Electrophysiological examination showed that fetal NSCs respond to acetylcholine and its agonists, such as nicotine and muscarine. NSCs express low levels of tetrodotoxin (TTX) sensitive and insensitive sodium channels and calcium channels while expressing at least three kinds of potassium channels. We find that gap junction communication is mediated by connexin (Cx)43 and Cx45, and is essential for NSC survival and proliferation. Overall, our results show that fetal NSCs exhibit a unique signature that can be used to determine their location and assess their ability to respond to their environment.