Neural stem cells (NSCs) persist in the subventricular zone (SVZ) of the adult brain. Location within this germinal region determines the type of neuronal progeny NSCs generate, but the mechanism of adult NSC positional specification remains unknown. We show that sonic hedgehog (Shh) signaling, resulting in high gli1 levels, occurs in the ventral SVZ and is associated with the genesis of specific neuronal progeny. Shh is selectively produced by a small group of ventral forebrain neurons. Ablation of Shh decreases production of ventrally derived neuron types, while ectopic activation of this pathway in dorsal NSCs respecifies their progeny to deep granule interneurons and calbindin-positive periglomerular cells. These results show that Shh is necessary and sufficient for the specification of adult ventral NSCs.
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