About this Research Topic
The adult mammalian central nervous system (CNS) has little capacity for regeneration after injury and disease. However, stem cells are now known to exist throughout the CNS of all adult mammals, including humans. The defining feature of stem cells is their capability to produce on the one hand more of themselves (self-renewal) and on the other hand to produce more differentiated progeny. The production of new neurons by neural stem cells (so called neurogenesis) is not only happening during brain development but can be observed continuously also in the adult brain. Under homeostatic conditions neurogenesis is mainly occurring in two distinct regions of the adult brain, these are the subventricular zone (SVZ) of the lateral ventricles and the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus.
In these neurogenic niches neurogenesis occurs through precisely coordinated processes of neural stem cell (NSC) proliferation, fate specification, migration and maturation. In this process neural stem and progenitor cells pass through various stages of cell fate commitment. This degree of commitment is regulated by cell fate determining proteins. However, the existing knowledge about which cell fate determinants are active during adult neurogenesis and what their exact mode of action is still poor. Accumulating evidences suggest that the group of cell fate determinants goes far beyond classical cell fate determinants and it is hypothesized that for example also cell cycle progression and epigenetic changes strongly direct the fate of neural progenitors in the adult brain. After generation adult-born neurons are functionally integrated into the existing neuronal circuitry within the olfactory bulb and the dentate gyrus. These newly generated neurons fulfil important functions during learning and memory, pattern segregation and sensory information processing. Additionally, adult-born neurons in the olfactory bulb might regulate pheromone-related behaviours like mating and social recognition.
Adult neurogenesis holds great regenerative potential for restoring affected brain regions of patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases. So far, several clinical approaches using transplanted or recruited cells failed since newly derived cells were either not able to differentiate, underwent glial instead of neuronal differentiation or simply died. Therefore, experimental manipulation of cell fate determinants in transplanted or endogenous neural stem cells could be an interesting new therapeutic approach for cell replacement therapies.
Within this Research Topic we aim at addressing the diverse functions of cell fate determining factors and pathways during adult neurogenesis. Articles investigating the molecular and cellular function of these factors and pathways as well as wholistic studies linking molecular mechanisms of cell fate determinants to behavioural phenotypes form the scope of this Research Topic. The compilation should be completed by articles aiming at the manipulation of cell fate and modelling of cell fate decisions. We are welcoming original research articles as well as reviews, methods articles and opinions.
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.