DNGR-1-tracing marks an ependymal cell subset with damage-responsive neural stem cell potential

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Cells with latent stem ability can contribute to mammalian tissue regeneration after damage. Whether the central nervous system (CNS) harbors such cells remains controversial. Here, we report that DNGR-1 lineage tracing in mice identifies an ependymal cell subset, wherein resides latent regenerative potential. We demonstrate that DNGR-1-lineage-traced ependymal cells arise early in embryogenesis (E11.5) and subsequently spread across the lining of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)-filled compartments to form a contiguous sheet from the brain to the end of the spinal cord. In the steady state, these DNGR-1-traced cells are quiescent, committed to their ependymal cell fate, and do not contribute to neuronal or glial lineages. However, trans-differentiation can be induced in adult mice by CNS injury or in vitro by culture with suitable factors. Our findings highlight previously unappreciated ependymal cell heterogeneity and identify across the entire CNS an ependymal cell subset wherein resides damage-responsive neural stem cell potential.