BackgroundNeural conversion from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) has been demonstrated in a variety of systems including chemically defined suspension culture, not requiring extrinsic signals, as well as in an adherent culture method that involves dual SMAD inhibition using Noggin and SB431542 (an inhibitor of activin/nodal signaling). Previous studies have also determined a role for activin/nodal signaling in development of the neural plate and anterior fate specification. We therefore sought to investigate the independent influence of SB431542 both on neural commitment of hESCs and positional identity of derived neural progenitors in chemically defined substrate-free conditions.
Methodology/principal findingsWe show that in non-adherent culture conditions, treatment with SB431542 alone for 8 days is sufficient for highly efficient and accelerated neural conversion from hESCs with negligible mesendodermal, epidermal or trophectodermal contamination. In addition the resulting neural progenitor population has a predominantly caudal identity compared to the more anterior positional fate of non-SB431542 treated cultures. Finally we demonstrate that resulting neurons are electro-physiologically competent.
ConclusionsThis study provides a platform for the efficient generation of caudal neural progenitors under defined conditions for experimental study.
SUBMITTER: Patani R