[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Capturing the full potential of human pluripotent stem cell (PSC)-derived neurons in disease modeling and regenerative medicine requires analysis in complex functional systems. Here we establish optogenetic control in human PSC-derived spinal motorneurons and show that co-culture of these cells with human myoblast-derived skeletal muscle builds a functional all-human neuromuscular junction that can be triggered to twitch upon light stimulation. To model neuromuscular disease we incubated these co-cultures with IgG from myasthenia gravis patients and active complement. Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disorder that selectively targets neuromuscular junctions. We saw a reversible reduction in the amplitude of muscle contractions, representing a surrogate marker for the characteristic loss of muscle strength seen in this disease. The ability to recapitulate key aspects of disease pathology and its symptomatic treatment suggests
that this neuromuscular junction assay has significant potential for modeling of neuromuscular disease and regeneration.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: As a group, we met to discuss the current challenges for creating meaningful patient-specific in vitro models to study brain disorders. Although the convergence of findings between laboratories and patient cohorts provided us confidence and optimism that hiPSC-based platforms will inform future drug discovery efforts, a number of critical technical challenges remain. This opinion piece outlines our collective views on the current state of hiPSC-based disease modeling and discusses what we see to be the critical objectives that must be addressed collectively as a field.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The advent of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) has transformed the classic approach of studying human disease, providing in vitro access to disease-relevant cells from patients for the study of disease pathogenesis and for drug screening. However, in spite of the broad repertoire of iPSC-based disease models developed in recent years, increasing evidence suggests that this technology might not be fully suitable for the study of conditions of old age, such as neurodegeneration. The difficulty in recapitulating late-stage features of disease in cells of pluripotent origin is believed to be a discrepancy between the fetal-like nature of iPSC-progeny and the advanced age of onset of neurodegenerative syndromes. In parallel to the issue of functional immaturity known to affect derivatives of pluripotent cells, latest findings suggest that reprogramming also subjects cells to a process of "rejuvenation", giving rise to cells that are too "young" to manifest phenotypes of age-related diseases. Thus, following the significant progress in manipulating cellular fate, the stem cell field will now have to face the new challenge of controlling cellular age, in order to fully harness the potential of iPSC-technology to advance the research and cure of diseases of the aging brain. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled SI: Exploiting human neurons.
Brain research 11/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.brainres.2015.11.013 · 2.84 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Translating new cell-based therapies to the clinic for patients with neurodegenerative disorders is complex. It involves pre-clinical testing of the cellular product and discussions with several regulatory agencies, as well as ethical debates. In an attempt to support efforts around the world, we set up a global consortium that brings together the major funded teams working on developing a stem cell-derived neural transplantation therapy for Parkinson’s disease (PD). This consortium, G-Force PD, involves teams from Europe, USA, and Japan, and has already met on two occasions to discuss common problems, solutions, and the roadmap to the clinic. In this short review, we lay out the brief history and rationale for this initiative and discuss some of the issues that arose in our most recent meeting (May 2015) as we consider undertaking first-in-human clinical trials with stem cell-derived neurons for PD.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In contrast to the successful modeling of early-onset disorders using patient-specific cells, modeling of late-onset neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease remains a challenge. This might be related to the often ignored fact that current induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) differentiation protocols yield cells that typically show the behavior of fetal stage cells. Acknowledging aging as a contributing factor in late-onset neurodegenerative disorders represents an important step on the road towards faithfully recreating these diseases in vitro. Here, we summarize progress in the field and review the strategies and challenges for triggering late-onset disease phenotypes.
Development 09/2015; 142(18):3085-3089. DOI:10.1242/dev.120667 · 6.46 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The derivation of somatic motoneurons (MNs) from ES cells (ESCs) after exposure to sonic hedgehog (SHH) and retinoic acid (RA) is one of the best defined, directed differentiation strategies to specify fate in pluripotent lineages. In mouse ESCs,MNyield is particularly high after RA + SHH treatment, whereas human ESC (hESC) protocols have been generally less efficient. In an effort to optimize yield, we observe that functional MNs can be derived from hESCs at high efficiencies if treated with patterning molecules at very early differentiation steps before neural induction. Remarkably, under these conditions, equal numbers of human MNs were obtained in the presence or absence of SHH exposure. Using pharmacological and genetic strategies, we demonstrate that early RA treatment directsMNdifferentiation independently of extrinsicSHHactivation by suppressing the induction of GLI3.We further demonstrate that neural induction triggers a switch from a poised to an active chromatin state at GLI3. Early RA treatment prevents this switch by direct binding of the RA receptor at the GLI3 promoter. Furthermore, GLI3 knock-out hESCs can bypass the requirement for early RA patterning to yield MNs efficiently. Our data demonstrate that RAmediated suppression of GLI3 is sufficient to generate MNs in an SHH-independent manner and that temporal changes in exposure to patterning factors such as RA affect chromatin state and competency of hESC-derived lineages to adopt specific neuronal fates. Finally, our work presents a streamlined platform for the highly efficient derivation of human MNs from ESCs and induced pluripotent stem cells.
The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 08/2015; 35(33):11462-11481. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3046-14.2015 · 6.34 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mammalian NOTCH1-4 receptors are all associated with human malignancy, although exact roles remain enigmatic. Here we employ glp-1(ar202), a temperature-sensitive gain-of-function C. elegans NOTCH mutant, to delineate NOTCH-driven tumor responses to radiotherapy. At ≤20°C, glp-1(ar202) is wild-type, whereas at 25°C it forms a germline stem cell⁄progenitor cell tumor reminiscent of human cancer. We identify a NOTCH tumor phenotype in which all tumor cells traffic rapidly to G2⁄M post-irradiation, attempt to repair DNA strand breaks exclusively via homology-driven repair, and when this fails die by mitotic death. Homology-driven repair inactivation is dramatically radiosensitizing. We show that these concepts translate directly to human cancer models.
PLoS ONE 06/2015; 10(6):e0127862. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0127862 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) is a common virus that can rarely invade the human central nervous system (CNS), causing devastating encephalitis. The permissiveness to HSV-1 of the various relevant cell types of the CNS, neurons, astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, and microglia cells, as well as their response to viral infection, has been extensively studied in humans and other animals. Nevertheless, human CNS cell-based models of anti-HSV-1 immunity are of particular importance, as responses to any given neurotropic virus may differ between humans and other animals. Human CNS neuron cell lines as well as primary human CNS neurons, astrocytes, and microglia cells cultured/isolated from embryos or cadavers, have enabled the study of cell-autonomous anti-HSV-1 immunity in vitro. However, the paucity of biological samples and their lack of purity have hindered progress in the field, which furthermore suffers from the absence of testable primary human oligodendrocytes. Recently, the authors have established a human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs)-based model of anti-HSV-1 immunity in neurons, oligodendrocyte precursor cells, astrocytes, and neural stem cells, which has widened the scope of possible in vitro studies while permitting in-depth explorations. This mini-review summarizes the available data on human primary and iPSC-derived CNS cells for anti-HSV-1 immunity. The hiPSC-mediated study of anti-viral immunity in both healthy individuals and patients with viral encephalitis will be a powerful tool in dissecting the disease pathogenesis of CNS infections with HSV-1 and other neurotropic viruses.
Frontiers in Immunology 05/2015; 6. DOI:10.3389/fimmu.2015.00208
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent studies have shown evidence of behavioral recovery after transplantation of human pluripotent stem cell (PSC)-derived neural cells in animal models of neurological disease. However, little is known about the mechanisms underlying graft function. Here we use optogenetics to modulate in real time electrophysiological and neurochemical properties of mesencephalic dopaminergic (mesDA) neurons derived from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). In mice that had recovered from lesion-induced Parkinsonian motor deficits, light-induced selective silencing of graft activity rapidly and reversibly re-introduced the motor deficits. The re-introduction of motor deficits was prevented by the dopamine agonist apomorphine. These results suggest that functionality depends on graft neuronal activity and dopamine release. Combining optogenetics, slice electrophysiology and pharmacological approaches, we further show that mesDA-rich grafts modulate host glutamatergic synaptic transmission onto striatal medium spiny neurons in a manner reminiscent of endogenous mesDA neurons. Thus, application of optogenetics in cell therapy can link transplantation, animal behavior and postmortem analysis to enable the identification of mechanisms that drive recovery.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The long-term risk of malignancy associated with stem cell therapies is a significant concern in the clinical application of this exciting technology. We report a cancer-selective strategy to enhance the safety of stem cell therapies. Briefly, using a cell engineering approach, we show that aggressive cancers derived from human or murine induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are strikingly sensitive to temporary MYC blockade. On the other hand, differentiated tissues derived from human or mouse iPSCs can readily tolerate temporary MYC inactivation. In cancer cells, endogenous MYC is required to maintain the metabolic and epigenetic functions of the embryonic and cancer-specific pyruvate kinase M2 isoform (PKM2). In summary, our results implicate PKM2 in cancer's increased MYC dependence and indicate dominant MYC inhibition as a cancer-selective fail-safe for stem cell therapies.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) have great potential for studying human embryonic development, for modeling human diseases in the dish and as a source of transplantable cells for regenerative applications after disease or accidents. Neural crest (NC) cells are the precursors for a large variety of adult somatic cells, such as cells from the peripheral nervous system and glia, melanocytes and mesenchymal cells. They are a valuable source of cells to study aspects of human embryonic development, including cell fate specification and migration. Further differentiation of NC progenitor cells into terminally differentiated cell types offers the possibility to model human diseases in vitro, investigate disease mechanisms and generate cells for regenerative medicine. This article presents the adaptation of a currently available in vitro differentiation protocol for the derivation of NC cells from hPSCs. This new protocol requires 18 days of differentiation, is feeder-free, easily scalable and highly reproducible among human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines as well as human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) lines. Both old and new protocols yield NC cells of equal identity.
Journal of Visualized Experiments 05/2014; DOI:10.3791/51609 · 1.33 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Subsets of rodent neurons are reported to express major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC-I), but such expression has not been reported in normal adult human neurons. Here we provide evidence from immunolabel, RNA expression and mass spectrometry analysis of postmortem samples that human catecholaminergic substantia nigra and locus coeruleus neurons express MHC-I, and that this molecule is inducible in human stem cell-derived dopamine (DA) neurons. Catecholamine murine cultured neurons are more responsive to induction of MHC-I by gamma-interferon than other neuronal populations. Neuronal MHC-I is also induced by factors released from microglia activated by neuromelanin or alpha-synuclein, or high cytosolic DA and/or oxidative stress. DA neurons internalize foreign ovalbumin and display antigen derived from this protein by MHC-I, which triggers DA neuronal death in the presence of appropriate cytotoxic T cells. Thus, neuronal MHC-I can trigger antigenic response, and catecholamine neurons may be particularly susceptible to T-cell-mediated cytotoxic attack.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: After years of incremental progress, several recent studies have succeeded in deriving disease-relevant cell types from human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC) sources. The prospect of an unlimited cell source, combined with promising preclinical data, indicates that hPSC technology may be on the verge of clinical translation. In this Review, we discuss recent progress in directed differentiation, some of the new technologies that have facilitated the success of hPSC therapies and the remaining hurdles on the road towards developing hPSC-based cell therapies.