Neural Epidermal Growth Factor-Like Like Protein 2 Is Expressed in Human Oligodendroglial Cell Types

Mohammed R. Shaker, Amna Kahtan, Renuka Prasad, Ju Hyun Lee, Giovanni Pietrogrande, Hannah C. Leeson, Woong Sun, Ernst J. Wolvetang, Andrii Slonchak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Neural epidermal growth factor-like like 2 (NELL2) is a cytoplasmic and secreted glycosylated protein with six epidermal growth factor-like domains. In animal models, NELL2 is predominantly expressed in neural tissues where it regulates neuronal differentiation, polarization, and axon guidance, but little is known about the role of NELL2 in human brain development. In this study, we show that rostral neural stem cells (rNSC) derived from human-induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) exhibit particularly strong NELL2 expression and that NELL2 protein is enriched at the apical side of neural rosettes in hiPSC-derived brain organoids. Following differentiation of human rostral NSC into neurons, NELL2 remains robustly expressed but changes its subcellular localization from >20 small cytoplasmic foci in NSC to one–five large peri-nuclear puncta per neuron. Unexpectedly, we discovered that in human brain organoids, NELL2 is readily detectable in the oligodendroglia and that the number of NELL2 puncta increases as oligodendrocytes mature. Artificial intelligence-based machine learning further predicts a strong association of NELL2 with multiple human white matter diseases, suggesting that NELL2 may possess yet unexplored roles in regulating oligodendrogenesis and/or myelination during human cortical development and maturation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number803061
JournalFrontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Feb 21


  • NELL2
  • artificial intelligence
  • brain organoid
  • neural stem cells
  • oligodendrocyte

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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