Institute of Molecular Medicine and Genetics, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, Georgia 30912, USA.
Glycosphingolipids (GSLs) are known to play important roles in cellular growth and differentiation in the nervous system. The change in expression of gangliosides is correlated with crucial developmental events and is evolutionarily conserved among many vertebrate species. The emergence of neural progenitors represents a crucial step in neural development, but little is known about the exact composition and subcellular localization of gangliosides in neural progenitor cells. The C17.2 cell line was derived after v-myc transformation of neural progenitor cells isolated from neonatal mouse cerebellar cortex. The developmental potential of C17.2 cells is similar to that of endogenous neural progenitor/stem cells in that they are multipotential and capable of differentiating into all neural cell types. We characterized the GSL composition of C17.2 cells and found the presence of only a-series gangliosides. Subcellular localization studies revealed that GM1 and GD1a are localized mainly on the plasma membrane and partly in the cytoplasm, both as punctate clusters. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction revealed the absence of ST-II transcripts in C17 cells, which most likely accounts for the lack of expression of b- and c-series complex gangliosides in this cell line. These data suggest that the divergence in ganglioside expression in C17.2 cells is regulated at the transcriptional level.