Gene expression analysis of midbrain dopamine progenitors in embryonic mouse
ABSTRACT: To improve the standardization of cell therapies for Parkinson’s disease, methods for the selection and isolation of midbrain dopaminergic progenitors for transplantation are required. To facilitate this we established an expression profile for genes selectively expressed on transplantable midbrain dopaminergic progenitors using microarray analysis. Expression of GFP in the ventral mesencephalon of embryonic E12.5 Ngn2-GFP mice identifies a distinct sub-population of cells containing virtually all of the midbrain dopaminergic progenitors. Gene expression profiles from 3 biological replicates of FACS isolated GFP-positive cells from mouse Ngn2-GFP ventral mesencephalon were generated using microarrays. To reduce the likelihood of identifying transcripts from non-dopaminergic progenitors, 3 biological replicates of FACS isolated GFP-negative cells from mouse Lmx1a-GFP ventral mesencephalon (definitively non-dopaminergic) were used as a reference population.
Project description:To improve the standardization of cell therapies for Parkinson’s disease, methods for the selection and isolation of midbrain dopaminergic progenitors for transplantation are required. To facilitate this we established an expression profile for genes selectively expressed on transplantable midbrain dopaminergic progenitors using microarray analysis. Expression of GFP in the ventral mesencephalon of embryonic E12.5 Ngn2-GFP mice identifies a distinct sub-population of cells containing virtually all of the midbrain dopaminergic progenitors. Gene expression profiles from 3 biological replicates of FACS isolated GFP-positive cells from mouse Ngn2-GFP ventral mesencephalon were generated using microarrays. To reduce the likelihood of identifying transcripts from non-dopaminergic progenitors, 3 biological replicates of FACS isolated GFP-negative cells from mouse Lmx1a-GFP ventral mesencephalon (definitively non-dopaminergic) were used as a reference population.
Project description:Neurons derived from neural stem cells could potentially be used for cell therapy in neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson's disease. To achieve controlled differentiation of neural stem cells, we expressed transcription factors involved in the development of midbrain dopaminergic neurons in rat and human neural progenitors. Using retroviral-mediated transgene delivery, we overexpressed Lmx1a (LIM homeobox transcription factor 1, alpha), Msx1 (msh homeobox homolog 1), Ngn2 (neurogenin 2), or Pitx3 (paired-like homeodomain transcription factor 3) in neurospheres derived from embryonic day 14.5 rat ventral mesencephalic progenitors. We also expressed either Lmx1a or Msx1 in the human embryonic midbrain-derived progenitor cell line NGC-407. Rat cells transduced with Ngn2 exited the cell cycle and expressed the neuronal marker microtubule-associated protein 2 and catecholamine-neuron protein vesicular monoamine transporter 2. Interestingly, Pitx3 downregulated the expression of SOX2 (SRY-box containing gene 2) and Nestin, altered cell morphology, but never induced neuronal or glial differentiation. Ngn2 exhibited a strong neuron-inducing effect. In contrast, few Lmx1a-transduced cells matured into neurons, and Msx1 overexpression promoted oligodendrogenesis rather than neuronal differentiation. Importantly, none of these four genes, alone or in combination, enhanced differentiation of rat neural stem cells into dopaminergic neurons. Notably, the overexpression of Lmx1a, but not Msx1, in human neural progenitors increased the yield of tyrosine hydroxylase-immunoreactive cells by threefold. Together, we demonstrate that induced overexpression of transcription factor genes has profound and specific effects on the differentiation of rat and human midbrain progenitors, although few dopamine neurons are generated.
Project description:Human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) can provide a promising source of midbrain dopaminergic (mDA) neurons for cell replacement therapy for Parkinson's disease (PD). However, iPSC-derived donor cells inevitably contain tumorigenic or inappropriate cells. To eliminate these unwanted cells, cell sorting using antibodies for specific markers such as CORIN or ALCAM have been developed, but neither marker is specific for ventral midbrain. Here, we employed a double-selection strategy for cells expressing both CORIN and LMX1A::GFP and report a novel cell surface marker to enrich mDA progenitors, LRTM1. When transplanted into 6-OHDA-lesioned rats, human iPSC-derived LRTM1+ cells survived and differentiated into mDA neurons in vivo, resulting in significant improvement in motor behavior without tumor formation. In addition, LRTM1+ cells exhibited efficient survival of mDA neurons in the brain of an MPTP-treated monkey. Thus, LRTM1 can provide a powerful tool for efficient and safe cell therapy for PD patients. Overall design: Differentiated mouse ESC-derived neural progenitors just after sorting (day9 CORIN+LMX1A::GFP+, day9 CORIN-LMX1A::GFP+) and mouse fetal ventral mesencephalon on E11.5 (CORIN+, CORIN-) were subjected to RNA extraction and hybridization on Affymetrix microarrays.
Project description:Despite the progress in safety and efficacy of cell replacement therapy with pluripotent stem cells (PSCs), the presence of residual undifferentiated stem cells or proliferating neural progenitor cells with rostral identity remains a major challenge. Here we report the generation of a LIM homeobox transcription factor 1 alpha (LMX1A) knock-in GFP reporter human embryonic stem cell (hESC) line that marks the early dopaminergic progenitors during neural differentiation to find reliable membrane protein markers for isolation of midbrain dopaminergic neurons. Purified GFP positive cells in vitro exhibited expression of mRNA and proteins that characterized and matched the midbrain dopaminergic identity. Further quantitative proteomics analysis of enriched LMX1A+ cells identified several membrane-associated proteins including a polysialylated embryonic form of neural cell adhesion molecule (PSA-NCAM) and contactin 2 (CNTN2), enabling prospective isolation of LMX1A+ progenitor cells. Transplantation of human-PSC-derived purified CNTN2+ progenitors enhanced dopamine release from transplanted cells in the host brain and alleviated Parkinson's disease-related phenotypes in animal models. This study establishes an efficient approach for purification of large numbers of human-PSC-derived dopaminergic progenitors for therapeutic applications.
Project description:The identification of small molecules capable of directing pluripotent cell differentiation towards specific lineages is highly desirable to both reduce cost, and increase efficiency. Within neural progenitors, LIM homeobox transcription factor 1 alpha (Lmx1a) is required for proper development of roof plate and cortical hem structures of the forebrain, as well as the development of floor plate and midbrain dopaminergic neurons. In this study we generated homologous recombinant cell lines expressing either luciferase or ?-lactamase under the control of the Lmx1a promoter, and used these cell lines to investigate kinase-mediated regulation of Lmx1a activity during neuronal differentiation. A screen of 143 small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors yielded 16 compounds that positively or negatively modulated Lmx1a activity. Inhibition of EGF, VEGF and DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK) signaling significantly upregulated Lmx1a activity whereas MEK inhibition strongly downregulated its activity. Quantitative FACS analysis revealed that the DNA-PK inhibitor significantly increased the number of Lmx1a+ progenitors while subsequent qPCR showed an upregulation of Notch effectors, the basic helix-loop-helix genes, Hes5 and Hey1. FACS further revealed that DNA-PK-mediated regulation of Lmx1a+ cells is dependent on the rapamycin-sensitive complex, mTORC1. Interestingly, this DNA-PK inhibitor effect was preserved in a co-culture differentiation protocol. Terminal differentiation assays showed that DNA-PK inhibition shifted development of neurons from forebrain toward midbrain character as assessed by Pitx3/TH immunolabeling and corresponding upregulation of midbrain (En1), but not forebrain (FoxG1) transcripts. These studies show that Lmx1a signaling in mouse embryonic stem cells contributes to a molecular cascade establishing neuronal specification. The data presented here identifies a novel regulatory pathway where signaling from DNA-PK appears to suppress midbrain-specific Lmx1a expression.
Project description:Effective induction of midbrain-specific dopamine (mDA) neurons from stem cells is fundamental for realizing their potential in biomedical applications relevant to Parkinson's disease. During early development, the Otx2-positive neural tissues are patterned anterior-posteriorly to form the forebrain and midbrain under the influence of extracellular signaling such as FGF and Wnt. In the mesencephalon, sonic hedgehog (Shh) specifies a ventral progenitor fate in the floor plate region that later gives rise to mDA neurons. In this study, we systematically investigated the temporal actions of FGF signaling in mDA neuron fate specification of mouse and human pluripotent stem cells and mouse induced pluripotent stem cells. We show that a brief blockade of FGF signaling on exit of the lineage-primed epiblast pluripotent state initiates an early induction of Lmx1a and Foxa2 in nascent neural progenitors. In addition to inducing ventral midbrain characteristics, the FGF signaling blockade during neural induction also directs a midbrain fate in the anterior-posterior axis by suppressing caudalization as well as forebrain induction, leading to the maintenance of midbrain Otx2. Following a period of endogenous FGF signaling, subsequent enhancement of FGF signaling by Fgf8, in combination with Shh, promotes mDA neurogenesis and restricts alternative fates. Thus, a stepwise control of FGF signaling during distinct stages of stem cell neural fate conversion is crucial for reliable and highly efficient production of functional, authentic midbrain-specific dopaminergic neurons. Importantly, we provide evidence that this novel, small-molecule-based strategy applies to both mouse and human pluripotent stem cells.
Project description:Despite the progress in safety and efficacy of cell therapy with pluripotent stem cells (PSCs), the presence of residual undifferentiated stem cells or proliferating neural progenitor cells (NPCs) with rostral identity has remained a major challenge. Here we reported the generation of an LMX1A knock-in GFP reporter human embryonic stem cell (hESC) line that marks the early dopaminergic progenitors during neural differentiation. Purified GFP positive cells in vitro exhibited expression of mRNA and proteins that characterized and matched the midbrain dopaminergic identity. Further proteomic analysis of enriched LMX1A+ cells identified several membrane associated proteins including CNTN2, enabling prospective isolation of LMX1A+ progenitor cells. Transplantation of hPSC-derived purified CNTN2+ progenitors enhanced dopamine release from transplanted cells in the host brain and alleviated Parkinson’s disease symptoms in animal models. Our study establishes an efficient approach for purification of large numbers of hPSC-derived dopaminergic progenitors for therapeutic applications.
Project description:By sequentially applying sonic hedgehog (C25II) and CHIR99021 (GSK3? inhibitor) to induce the midbrain floor plate (FP) progenitors and fibroblast growth factor 8 (FGF8) to promote dopaminergic differentiation in a chemically defined medium, we have established a robust system for the generation of midbrain dopamine (DA) neurons from human and rhesus monkey embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells (PSCs). We found that CHIR99021 specifies diencephalon to hind brain fates in a concentration-dependent manner and only a narrow concentration range of CHIR99021 at a particular window is necessary to induce the midbrain FP progenitors, expressing Corin, En1, FoxA2, and Lmx1a. FGF8 enhances the dopaminergic fate of the progenitors, thus generating DA neurons with midbrain characteristics, including expression of tyrosine hydroxylase, Lmx1a/b, FoxA2, FoxP1, Nurr1, and En1 as well as typical electrophysiological properties. More than half of these DA neurons expressed A9 DA neuron markers Girk2 and ALDH1a1. The new strategy will allow generation of enriched populations of functional midbrain DA neurons from both human and monkey PSCs for disease modeling, drug testing, and potential cell therapy.
Project description:The basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) protein family has previously been shown to be involved in the development of mesodiencephalic dopaminergic (mdDA) neurons in the murine midbrain. Specifically, Ngn2 and Mash1 are known to have a role in the specification of neural progenitors in the ventricular zone (VZ) of the midbrain towards an mdDA neuronal cell-fate. Furthermore, other members of the bHLH protein family, the E-box factors, are expressed in the developing midbrain and are thought to have a role in neuronal differentiation. Here we show that the E-box factor Tcf12 is implicated in early and late development of mdDA neurons. Tcf12 is expressed in the midbrain and in young TH-expressing mdDA neurons throughout development. Tcf12lox/lox;En1cre/+ embryos, that lose Tcf12 at ~embryonic day (E)9 throughout the En1 expression domain, have a changed spatial expression of Lmx1a and Nurr1 and a consistent loss of rostral TH expression. Expression of the subset marker Ahd2 is initially delayed, but recovers during development, eventually showing an ~10% increase in AHD2-expressing cells at postnatal day (P)30. Tcf12lox/lox;Pitx3cre/+ embryos, that lose Tcf12 at ~E12 in post-mitotic mdDA neurons, show no effect on the amount of TH-expressing neurons in the developing midbrain. However, similar as to Tcf12lox/lox;En1cre/+ embryos, subset specification is delayed during development. Taken together, we have identified Tcf12 as a novel factor in mdDA neuronal development. It serves a dual function; one in early cell-fate commitment of neural progenitors and one late in subset specification.
Project description:Two adjacent groups of midbrain dopaminergic neurons, A9 (substantia nigra pars compacta) and A10 (ventral tegmental area), have distinct projections and exhibit differential vulnerability in Parkinson's disease. Little is known about transcription factors that influence midbrain dopaminergic subgroup phenotypes or their potential role in disease. Here, we demonstrate elevated expression of the transcription factor orthodenticle homeobox 2 in A10 dopaminergic neurons of embryonic and adult mouse, primate and human midbrain. Overexpression of orthodenticle homeobox 2 using lentivirus increased levels of known A10 elevated genes, including neuropilin 1, neuropilin 2, slit2 and adenylyl cyclase-activating peptide in both MN9D cells and ventral mesencephalic cultures, whereas knockdown of endogenous orthodenticle homeobox 2 levels via short hairpin RNA reduced expression of these genes in ventral mesencephalic cultures. Lack of orthodenticle homeobox 2 in the ventral mesencephalon of orthodenticle homeobox 2 conditional knockout mice caused a reduction of midbrain dopaminergic neurons and selective loss of A10 dopaminergic projections. Orthodenticle homeobox 2 overexpression protected dopaminergic neurons in ventral mesencephalic cultures from Parkinson's disease-relevant toxin, 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium, whereas downregulation of orthodenticle homeobox 2 using short hairpin RNA increased their susceptibility. These results show that orthodenticle homeobox 2 is important for establishing subgroup phenotypes of post-mitotic midbrain dopaminergic neurons and may alter neuronal vulnerability.