Raciti, 2013

2013 - Mol Cell Neurosci. 2013 Nov;57:42-53.

Reprogramming fibroblasts to neural-precursor-like cells by structured overexpression of pallial patterning genes

Raciti M, Granzotto M, Duc MD, Fimiani C, Cellot G, Cherubini E, Mallamaci A.


In this study, we assayed the capability of four genes implicated in embryonic specification of the cortico-cerebral field, Foxg1, Pax6, Emx2 and Lhx2, to reprogramme mouse embryonic fibroblasts towards neural identities. Lentivirus-mediated, TetON-dependent overexpression of Pax6 and Foxg1 transgenes specifically activated the neural stem cell (NSC) reporter Sox1-EGFP in a substantial fraction of engineered cells. The efficiency of this process was enhanced up to ten times by simultaneous inactivation of Trp53 and co-administration of a specific drug mix inhibiting HDACs, H3K27-HMTase and H3K4m2-demethylase. Remarkably, a fraction of the reprogrammed population expressed other NSC markers and retained its new identity, even after switching off the reprogramming transgenes. When transferred into a pro-differentiative environment, Pax6/Foxg1-overexpressing cells activated the neuronal marker Tau-EGFP. Frequency of Tau-EGFP positive cells was almost doubled upon delayed delivery of Emx2 and Lhx2 transgenes. A further improvement of the neuron-like cell output was achieved by inhibition of the BMP and TGFβ pathways. Tau-EGFP positive cells were able to generate action potentials upon injection of depolarizing current pulses, further indicating their neuron-like phenotype.


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