Recent evidence has shown that presenilin enhancer 2 (Pen2; Psenen) plays an essential role in corticogenesis by regulating the switch of apical progenitors (APs) to basal progenitors (BPs). The hippocampus is a brain structure required for advanced functions, including spatial navigation, learning and memory. However, it remains unknown whether Pen2 is important for hippocampal morphogenesis. To address this question, we generated Pen2 conditional knockout (cKO) mice, in which Pen2 is inactivated in neural progenitor cells (NPCs) in the hippocampal primordium. We showed that Pen2 cKO mice exhibited hippocampal malformation and decreased population of NPCs in the neuroepithelium of the hippocampus. We found that deletion of Pen2 neither affected the proliferative capability of APs nor the switch of APs to BPs in the hippocampus, and that it caused enhanced transition of APs to neurons. We demonstrated that expression of the Notch1 intracellular domain (N1ICD) significantly increased the population of NPCs in the Pen2 cKO hippocampus. Collectively, this study uncovers a crucial role for Pen2 in the maintenance of NPCs during hippocampal development.

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