Sox1 marks an activated neural stem/progenitor cell in the hippocampus.
The dentate gyrus of the hippocampus continues generating new neurons throughout life. These neurons originate from radial astrocytes within the subgranular zone (SGZ). Here, we find that Sox1, a member of the SoxB1 family of transcription factors, is expressed in a subset of radial astrocytes. Lineage tracing using Sox1-tTA;tetO-Cre;Rosa26 reporter mice shows that the Sox1-expressing cells represent an activated neural stem/progenitor population that gives rise to most if not all newly born granular neurons, as well as a small number of mature hilar astrocytes. Furthermore, a subpopulation of Sox1-marked cells have long-term neurogenic potential, producing new neurons 3 months after inactivation of tetracycline transactivator. Remarkably, after 8 weeks of labeling and a 12-week chase, as much as 44% of all granular neurons in the dentate gyrus were derived from Sox1 lineage-traced adult neural stem/progenitor cells. The fraction of Sox1-positive cells within the radial astrocyte population decreases with age, correlating with a decrease in neurogenesis. However, expression profiling shows that these cells are transcriptionally stable throughout the lifespan of the mouse. These results demonstrate that Sox1 is expressed in an activated stem/progenitor population whose numbers decrease with age while maintaining a stable molecular program.