Rapid and Efficient Conversion of Human Fibroblasts into Functional Neurons by Small Molecules

Publication date: Available online 17 October 2019Source: Stem Cell ReportsAuthor(s): Yaming Yang, Ruiguo Chen, Xianming Wu, Yannan Zhao, Yongheng Fan, Zhifeng Xiao, Jin Han, Le Sun, Xiaoqun Wang, Jianwu DaiSummaryRecent studies have demonstrated that human astrocytes and fibroblasts can be directly converted into functional neurons by small molecules. However, fibroblasts, as a potentially better cell resource for transplantation, are not as easy to reprogram as astrocytes regarding their fate to neurons, and chemically induced neurons (iNs) with low efficiency from fibroblasts resulted in limited application for the treatment of neurological disorders, including depression. Here, we report that human fibroblasts can be efficiently and directly reprogrammed into glutamatergic neuron-like cells by serially exposing cells to a combination of small molecules. These iNs displayed neuronal transcriptional networks, and also exhibited mature firing patterns and formed functional synapses. Importantly, iNs could integrate into local circuits after transplantation into postnatal mouse brain. Our study provides a rapid and efficient transgene-free approach for chemically generating neuron-like cells from human fibroblasts. Furthermore, our approach offers strategies for disease modeling and drug discovery in central nervous system disorders.
Source: Stem Cell Reports - Category: Stem Cells Source Type: research

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