Physiological roles of ion channels in adult neural stem cells and their progeny
Elucidation of the machinery of adult neurogenesis is indispensable for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases by therapeutic drugs and/or by neural stem cell (NSC) transplantation. It is well known that membrane ion channels play a critical role in cell function, including proliferation, apoptosis and migration in a wide range of cells. In NSC research, interdisciplinary collaboration between cell biologists and membrane physiologists has been pursued principally to monitor ion channel and synaptic currents as a hallmark of neuronal differentiation and maturation of NSC progeny. Nevertheless, less attention had been paid to a functional role of ion channels in NSCs or their immature progeny. Recently, however, evidence regarding their functional relevance has started to accumulate. In focusing on the early stages of the neurogenic process during which NSCs give rise to neuroblasts, this review highlights the latent ability of ion channels to act as functional regulators of adult neurogenesis.