Basal lamina is present in many stem cell niches, but we still have a poor understanding of the role of this and other extracellular matrix (ECM) components. Here, we review current knowledge regarding ECM expression and function in the neural stem cell niche, focusing on the subependymal zone of the adult CNS. An increasing complexity of ECM molecules has been described, and a number of receptors expressed on the stem cells identified. Experiments perturbing the niche using genetics or cytotoxic ablation of the rapidly dividing precursors, or using explant culture models to examine specific growth factors, have been influential in showing how changes in these ECM receptors might regulate neural stem cell behavior. However the role of changes in the matrix itself remains to be determined. The answers will be important, as they will point to the molecules required to engineer niches ex-vivo so as to provide tools for regenerative neuroscience.
- Basal lamina
- Neural stem cell