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Ascl1, Nurr1 and Lmx1 convert mouse and human fibroblasts into functional dopaminergic neurons without passing through an intermediate precursor state

ABSTRACT: Lineage-specific transcription factors, which drive cellular identity during embryogenesis, have been shown to convert cell fate when express ectopically in heterologous cells. Herein, we screened the key molecular factors governing the dopaminergic neuronal specification during brain development for their ability to generate similar neurons directly from mouse and human fibroblasts. Remarkably, we found a minimal set of three factors Mash1, Nurr1 and Lmx1a/b able to elicit such cellular reprogramming. Molecular and transcriptome studies showed reprogrammed DA neurons to faithfully recapitulate gene expression of their brain homolog cells while lacking expression of other catecholaminergic neuronal types. Induced neurons showed spontaneous electrical activity organized in regular spikes consistent with the pacemaker activity featured by brain DA neurons. The three factors were able to elicit DA neuronal conversion in human fibroblasts from prenatal or adult fibroblasts of healthy donors and a Parkinson’s disease patient. Generation of DA induced neurons from somatic cells might have significant implications in studies of neural development, disease in vitro modeling and cell replacement therapies. We infected mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) isolated from TH-GFP knock-in mice embryos at E14.5, with lentiviruses expressing the three dopaminergic transcription factors Ascl1, Lmx1a and Nurr1. TH-GFP MEFs infected (Ind) by a pool of the three previously mentioned dopaminergic lentiviruses were shifted in a neuronal medium for 12 days and sorted for GFP-positive cells. Thus we extracted mRNA from Ind-GFP-positive cells and compared them to not infetced (NI) cells by means of RNA-microarray analysis.

ORGANISM(S): Mus musculus  

SUBMITTER: Dejan Lazarevic   Stefano Gustincich  Vania Broccoli  Massimiliano Caiazzo  Paola Roncaglia 

PROVIDER: E-GEOD-27174 | ArrayExpress | 2011-07-04



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Transplantation of dopaminergic neurons can potentially improve the clinical outcome of Parkinson's disease, a neurological disorder resulting from degeneration of mesencephalic dopaminergic neurons. In particular, transplantation of embryonic-stem-cell-derived dopaminergic neurons has been shown to be efficient in restoring motor symptoms in conditions of dopamine deficiency. However, the use of pluripotent-derived cells might lead to the development of tumours if not properly controlled. Here  ...[more]

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