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Neurotrophic Requirements of Human Motor Neurons Defined Using Amplified and Purified Stem Cell-Derived Cultures

Lamas, Nuno Jorge; Johnson-Kerner, Bethany L.; Roybon, Laurent; Kim, Yoon A.; Garcia Diaz, Alejandro; Wichterle, Hynek; Henderson, Christopher

Human motor neurons derived from embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells (hESCs and hiPSCs) are a potentially important tool for studying motor neuron survival and pathological cell death. However, their basic survival requirements remain poorly characterized. Here, we sought to optimize a robust survival assay and characterize their response to different neurotrophic factors. First, to increase motor neuron yield, we screened a small-molecule collection and found that the Rho-associated kinase (ROCK) inhibitor Y-27632 enhances motor neuron progenitor proliferation up to 4-fold in hESC and hiPSC cultures. Next, we FACS-purified motor neurons expressing the Hb9::GFP reporter from Y-27632-amplified embryoid bodies and cultured them in the presence of mitotic inhibitors to eliminate dividing progenitors. Survival of these purified motor neurons in the absence of any other cell type was strongly dependent on neurotrophic support. GDNF, BDNF and CNTF all showed potent survival effects (EC50 1–2 pM). The number of surviving motor neurons was further enhanced in the presence of forskolin and IBMX, agents that increase endogenous cAMP levels. As a demonstration of the ability of the assay to detect novel neurotrophic agents, Y-27632 itself was found to support human motor neuron survival. Thus, purified human stem cell-derived motor neurons show survival requirements similar to those of primary rodent motor neurons and can be used for rigorous cell-based screening.

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Academic Units
Pathology and Cell Biology
Publisher
Public Library of Science
Published Here
June 3, 2016