DNA-damage response, survival and differentiation in vitro of a human neural stem cell line in relation to ATM expression

L. Carlessi, L. De Filippis, D. Lecis, A. Vescovi, D. Delia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T) is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by defects in the ATM kinase, a component of the DNA-damage response (DDR). Here, we employed an immortalized human neural stem-cell line (ihNSC) capable of differentiating in vitro into neurons, oligodendrocytes and astrocytes to assess the ATM-dependent response and outcome of ATM ablation. The time-dependent differentiation of ihNSC was accompanied by an upregulation of ATM and DNA-PK, sharp downregulation of ATR and Chk1, transient induction of p53 and by the onset of apoptosis in a fraction of cells. The response to ionizing radiation (IR)-induced DNA lesions was normal, as attested by the phosphorylation of ATM and some of its substrates (e.g., Nbs1, Smc1, Chk2 and p53), and by the kinetics of γ-H2AX nuclear foci formation. Depletion in these cells of ATM by shRNA interference (shATM) attenuated the differentiation-associated apoptosis and response to IR, but left unaffected the growth, self-renewal and genomic stability. shATM cells generated a normal number of MAP2/β-tubulin III+ neurons, but a reduced number of GalC+ oligodendrocytes, which were nevertheless more susceptible to oxidative stress. Altogether, these findings highlight the potential of ihNSCs as an in vitro model system to thoroughly assess, besides ATM, the role of DDR genes in neurogenesis and/or neurodegeneration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)795-806
Number of pages12
JournalCell death and differentiation
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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