Generation of pure GABAergic neurons by transcription factor programming.
2017; 14 (6): 621-628
Approaches to differentiating pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) into neurons currently face two major challenges-(i) generated cells are immature, with limited functional properties; and (ii) cultures exhibit heterogeneous neuronal subtypes and maturation stages. Using lineage-determining transcription factors, we previously developed a single-step method to generate glutamatergic neurons from human PSCs. Here, we show that transient expression of the transcription factors Ascl1 and Dlx2 (AD) induces the generation of exclusively GABAergic neurons from human PSCs with a high degree of synaptic maturation. These AD-induced neuronal (iN) cells represent largely nonoverlapping populations of GABAergic neurons that express various subtype-specific markers. We further used AD-iN cells to establish that human collybistin, the loss of gene function of which causes severe encephalopathy, is required for inhibitory synaptic function. The generation of defined populations of functionally mature human GABAergic neurons represents an important step toward enabling the study of diseases affecting inhibitory synaptic transmission.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nmeth.4291
View details for PubMedID 28504679
Myt1l safeguards neuronal identity by actively repressing many non-neuronal fates
2017; 544 (7649): 245-?
Normal differentiation and induced reprogramming require the activation of target cell programs and silencing of donor cell programs. In reprogramming, the same factors are often used to reprogram many different donor cell types. As most developmental repressors, such as RE1-silencing transcription factor (REST) and Groucho (also known as TLE), are considered lineage-specific repressors, it remains unclear how identical combinations of transcription factors can silence so many different donor programs. Distinct lineage repressors would have to be induced in different donor cell types. Here, by studying the reprogramming of mouse fibroblasts to neurons, we found that the pan neuron-specific transcription factor Myt1-like (Myt1l) exerts its pro-neuronal function by direct repression of many different somatic lineage programs except the neuronal program. The repressive function of Myt1l is mediated via recruitment of a complex containing Sin3b by binding to a previously uncharacterized N-terminal domain. In agreement with its repressive function, the genomic binding sites of Myt1l are similar in neurons and fibroblasts and are preferentially in an open chromatin configuration. The Notch signalling pathway is repressed by Myt1l through silencing of several members, including Hes1. Acute knockdown of Myt1l in the developing mouse brain mimicked a Notch gain-of-function phenotype, suggesting that Myt1l allows newborn neurons to escape Notch activation during normal development. Depletion of Myt1l in primary postmitotic neurons de-repressed non-neuronal programs and impaired neuronal gene expression and function, indicating that many somatic lineage programs are actively and persistently repressed by Myt1l to maintain neuronal identity. It is now tempting to speculate that similar 'many-but-one' lineage repressors exist for other cell fates; such repressors, in combination with lineage-specific activators, would be prime candidates for use in reprogramming additional cell types.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nature21722
View details for Web of Science ID 000398897900040
View details for PubMedID 28379941
Human AML-iPSCs Reacquire Leukemic Properties after Differentiation and Model Clonal Variation of Disease.
Cell stem cell
2017; 20 (3): 329-344 e7
Understanding the relative contributions of genetic and epigenetic abnormalities to acute myeloid leukemia (AML) should assist integrated design of targeted therapies. In this study, we generated induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from AML patient samples harboring MLL rearrangements and found that they retained leukemic mutations but reset leukemic DNA methylation/gene expression patterns. AML-iPSCs lacked leukemic potential, but when differentiated into hematopoietic cells, they reacquired the ability to give rise to leukemia in vivo and reestablished leukemic DNA methylation/gene expression patterns, including an aberrant MLL signature. Epigenetic reprogramming was therefore not sufficient to eliminate leukemic behavior. This approach also allowed us to study the properties of distinct AML subclones, including differential drug susceptibilities of KRAS mutant and wild-type cells, and predict relapse based on increased cytarabine resistance of a KRAS wild-type subclone. Overall, our findings illustrate the value of AML-iPSCs for investigating the mechanistic basis and clonal properties of human AML.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.stem.2016.11.018
View details for PubMedID 28089908
Unique versus Redundant Functions of Neuroligin Genes in Shaping Excitatory and Inhibitory Synapse Properties.
The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience
2017; 37 (29): 6816–36
Neuroligins are evolutionarily conserved postsynaptic cell adhesion molecules that interact with presynaptic neurexins. Neurons express multiple neuroligin isoforms that are targeted to specific synapses, but their synaptic functions and mechanistic redundancy are not completely understood. Overexpression or RNAi-mediated knockdown of neuroligins, respectively, causes a dramatic increase or decrease in synapse density, whereas genetic deletions of neuroligins impair synapse function with only minor effects on synapse numbers, raising fundamental questions about the overall physiological role of neuroligins. Here, we have systematically analyzed the effects of conditional genetic deletions of all major neuroligin isoforms (i.e., NL1, NL2, and NL3), either individually or in combinations, in cultured mouse hippocampal and cortical neurons. We found that conditional genetic deletions of neuroligins caused no change or only a small change in synapses numbers, but strongly impaired synapse function. This impairment was isoform specific, suggesting that neuroligins are not functionally redundant. Sparse neuroligin deletions produced phenotypes comparable to those of global deletions, indicating that neuroligins function in a cell-autonomous manner. Mechanistically, neuroligin deletions decreased the synaptic levels of neurotransmitter receptors and had no effect on presynaptic release probabilities. Overexpression of neuroligin-1 in control or neuroligin-deficient neurons increased synaptic transmission and synapse density but not spine numbers, suggesting that these effects reflect a gain-of-function mechanism; whereas overexpression of neuroligin-3, which, like neuroligin-1 is also targeted to excitatory synapses, had no comparable effect. Our data demonstrate that neuroligins are required for the physiological organization of neurotransmitter receptors in postsynaptic specializations and suggest that they do not play a major role in synapse formation.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Human neuroligin genes have been associated with autism, but the cellular functions of different neuroligins and their molecular mechanisms remain incompletely understood. Here, we performed comparative analyses in cultured mouse neurons of all major neuroligin isoforms, either individually or in combinations, using conditional knockouts. We found that neuroligin deletions did not affect synapse numbers but differentially impaired excitatory or inhibitory synaptic functions in an isoform-specific manner. These impairments were due, at least in part, to a decrease in synaptic distribution of neurotransmitter receptors upon deletion of neuroligins. Conversely, the overexpression of neuroligin-1 increased synapse numbers but not spine numbers. Our results suggest that various neuroligin isoforms perform unique postsynaptic functions in organizing synapses but are not essential for synapse formation or maintenance.
View details for DOI 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0125-17.2017
View details for PubMedID 28607166
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5518416
FoxO3 regulates neuronal reprogramming of cells from postnatal and aging mice
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
2016; 113 (30): 8514-8519
We and others have shown that embryonic and neonatal fibroblasts can be directly converted into induced neuronal (iN) cells with mature functional properties. Reprogramming of fibroblasts from adult and aged mice, however, has not yet been explored in detail. The ability to generate fully functional iN cells from aged organisms will be particularly important for in vitro modeling of diseases of old age. Here, we demonstrate production of functional iN cells from fibroblasts that were derived from mice close to the end of their lifespan. iN cells from aged mice had apparently normal active and passive neuronal membrane properties and formed abundant synaptic connections. The reprogramming efficiency gradually decreased with fibroblasts derived from embryonic and neonatal mice, but remained similar for fibroblasts from postnatal mice of all ages. Strikingly, overexpression of a transcription factor, forkhead box O3 (FoxO3), which is implicated in aging, blocked iN cell conversion of embryonic fibroblasts, whereas knockout or knockdown of FoxO3 increased the reprogramming efficiency of adult-derived but not of embryonic fibroblasts and also enhanced functional maturation of resulting iN cells. Hence, FoxO3 has a central role in the neuronal reprogramming susceptibility of cells, and the importance of FoxO3 appears to change during development.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1607079113
View details for Web of Science ID 000380346200057
View details for PubMedID 27402759
Pathogenic mechanism of an autism-associated neuroligin mutation involves altered AMPA-receptor trafficking.
2016; 21 (2): 169-177
Neuroligins are postsynaptic cell-adhesion molecules that bind to presynaptic neurexins. Although the general synaptic role of neuroligins is undisputed, their specific functions at a synapse remain unclear, even controversial. Moreover, many neuroligin gene mutations were associated with autism, but the pathophysiological relevance of these mutations is often unknown, and their mechanisms of action uninvestigated. Here, we examine the synaptic effects of an autism-associated neuroligin-4 substitution (called R704C), which mutates a cytoplasmic arginine residue that is conserved in all neuroligins. We show that the R704C mutation, when introduced into neuroligin-3, enhances the interaction between neuroligin-3 and AMPA receptors, increases AMPA-receptor internalization and decreases postsynaptic AMPA-receptor levels. When introduced into neuroligin-4, conversely, the R704C mutation unexpectedly elevated AMPA-receptor-mediated synaptic responses. These results suggest a general functional link between neuroligins and AMPA receptors, indicate that both neuroligin-3 and -4 act at excitatory synapses but perform surprisingly distinct functions, and demonstrate that the R704C mutation significantly impairs the normal function of neuroligin-4, thereby validating its pathogenicity.Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication, 17 March 2015; doi:10.1038/mp.2015.20.
View details for DOI 10.1038/mp.2015.20
View details for PubMedID 25778475
Generation of induced neuronal cells by the single reprogramming factor ASCL1.
Stem cell reports
2014; 3 (2): 282-296
Direct conversion of nonneural cells to functional neurons holds great promise for neurological disease modeling and regenerative medicine. We previously reported rapid reprogramming of mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) into mature induced neuronal (iN) cells by forced expression of three transcription factors: ASCL1, MYT1L, and BRN2. Here, we show that ASCL1 alone is sufficient to generate functional iN cells from mouse and human fibroblasts and embryonic stem cells, indicating that ASCL1 is the key driver of iN cell reprogramming in different cell contexts and that the role of MYT1L and BRN2 is primarily to enhance the neuronal maturation process. ASCL1-induced single-factor neurons (1F-iN) expressed mature neuronal markers, exhibited typical passive and active intrinsic membrane properties, and formed functional pre- and postsynaptic structures. Surprisingly, ASCL1-induced iN cells were predominantly excitatory, demonstrating that ASCL1 is permissive but alone not deterministic for the inhibitory neuronal lineage.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.stemcr.2014.05.020
View details for PubMedID 25254342
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4176533
Hierarchical Mechanisms for Direct Reprogramming of Fibroblasts to Neurons
2013; 155 (3): 621-635
Direct lineage reprogramming is a promising approach for human disease modeling and regenerative medicine, with poorly understood mechanisms. Here, we reveal a hierarchical mechanism in the direct conversion of fibroblasts into induced neuronal (iN) cells mediated by the transcription factors Ascl1, Brn2, and Myt1l. Ascl1 acts as an "on-target" pioneer factor by immediately occupying most cognate genomic sites in fibroblasts. In contrast, Brn2 and Myt1l do not access fibroblast chromatin productively on their own; instead, Ascl1 recruits Brn2 to Ascl1 sites genome wide. A unique trivalent chromatin signature in the host cells predicts the permissiveness for Ascl1 pioneering activity among different cell types. Finally, we identified Zfp238 as a key Ascl1 target gene that can partially substitute for Ascl1 during iN cell reprogramming. Thus, a precise match between pioneer factors and the chromatin context at key target genes is determinative for transdifferentiation to neurons and likely other cell types.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cell.2013.09.028
View details for Web of Science ID 000326571800016
View details for PubMedID 24243019
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3871197
Neurons generated by direct conversion of fibroblasts reproduce synaptic phenotype caused by autism-associated neuroligin-3 mutation.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
2013; 110 (41): 16622-16627
Recent studies suggest that induced neuronal (iN) cells that are directly transdifferentiated from nonneuronal cells provide a powerful opportunity to examine neuropsychiatric diseases. However, the validity of using this approach to examine disease-specific changes has not been demonstrated. Here, we analyze the phenotypes of iN cells that were derived from murine embryonic fibroblasts cultured from littermate wild-type and mutant mice carrying the autism-associated R704C substitution in neuroligin-3. We show that neuroligin-3 R704C-mutant iN cells exhibit a large and selective decrease in AMPA-type glutamate receptor-mediated synaptic transmission without changes in NMDA-type glutamate receptor- or in GABAA receptor-mediated synaptic transmission. Thus, the synaptic phenotype observed in R704C-mutant iN cells replicates the previously observed phenotype of R704C-mutant neurons. Our data show that the effect of the R704C mutation is applicable even to neurons transdifferentiated from fibroblasts and constitute a proof-of-concept demonstration that iN cells can be used for cellular disease modeling.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1316240110
View details for PubMedID 24046374
Acute reduction in oxygen tension enhances the induction of neurons from human fibroblasts.
Journal of neuroscience methods
2013; 216 (2): 104-109
We and others have reported the successful conversion of human fibroblasts into functional induced neuronal (iN) cells; however the reprogramming efficiencies were very low. Robust reprogramming methods must be developed before iN cells can be used for translational applications such as disease modeling or transplantation-based therapies. Here, we describe a novel approach in which we significantly enhance iN cell conversion efficiency of human fibroblast cells by reprogramming under hypoxic conditions (5% O₂). Fibroblasts were derived under high (21%) or low (5%) oxygen conditions and reprogrammed into iN cells using a combination of the four transcription factors BRN2, ASCL1, MYT1L and NEUROD1. An increase in Map2 immunostaining was only observed when fibroblasts experienced an acute drop in O₂ tension upon infection. Interestingly, cells derived and reprogrammed under hypoxic conditions did not produce more iN cells. Approximately 100% of patched cells fired action potentials in low O₂ conditions compared to 50% under high O₂ growth conditions, confirming the beneficial aspect of reprogramming under low O₂. Further characterization showed no significant difference in the intrinsic properties of iN cells reprogrammed in either condition. Surprisingly, the acute drop in oxygen tension did not affect cell proliferation or cell survival and was not synergistic with the blockade of GSK3β and Smad-mediated pathways. Our results showed that lowering the O₂ tension at the initiation of reprogramming is a simple and efficient strategy to enhance the production of iN cells which will facilitate their use for basic discovery and regenerative medicine.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2013.03.020
View details for PubMedID 23562599
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4009399
Rapid single-step induction of functional neurons from human pluripotent stem cells.
2013; 78 (5): 785-798
Available methods for differentiating human embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent cells (iPSCs) into neurons are often cumbersome, slow, and variable. Alternatively, human fibroblasts can be directly converted into induced neuronal (iN) cells. However, with present techniques conversion is inefficient, synapse formation is limited, and only small amounts of neurons can be generated. Here, we show that human ESCs and iPSCs can be converted into functional iN cells with nearly 100% yield and purity in less than 2 weeks by forced expression of a single transcription factor. The resulting ES-iN or iPS-iN cells exhibit quantitatively reproducible properties independent of the cell line of origin, form mature pre- and postsynaptic specializations, and integrate into existing synaptic networks when transplanted into mouse brain. As illustrated by selected examples, our approach enables large-scale studies of human neurons for questions such as analyses of human diseases, examination of human-specific genes, and drug screening.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuron.2013.05.029
View details for PubMedID 23764284
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3751803
Direct conversion of mouse fibroblasts to self-renewing, tripotent neural precursor cells
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
2012; 109 (7): 2527-2532
We recently showed that defined sets of transcription factors are sufficient to convert mouse and human fibroblasts directly into cells resembling functional neurons, referred to as "induced neuronal" (iN) cells. For some applications however, it would be desirable to convert fibroblasts into proliferative neural precursor cells (NPCs) instead of neurons. We hypothesized that NPC-like cells may be induced using the same principal approach used for generating iN cells. Toward this goal, we infected mouse embryonic fibroblasts derived from Sox2-EGFP mice with a set of 11 transcription factors highly expressed in NPCs. Twenty-four days after transgene induction, Sox2-EGFP(+) colonies emerged that expressed NPC-specific genes and differentiated into neuronal and astrocytic cells. Using stepwise elimination, we found that Sox2 and FoxG1 are capable of generating clonal self-renewing, bipotent induced NPCs that gave rise to astrocytes and functional neurons. When we added the Pou and Homeobox domain-containing transcription factor Brn2 to Sox2 and FoxG1, we were able to induce tripotent NPCs that could be differentiated not only into neurons and astrocytes but also into oligodendrocytes. The transcription factors FoxG1 and Brn2 alone also were capable of inducing NPC-like cells; however, these cells generated less mature neurons, although they did produce astrocytes and even oligodendrocytes capable of integration into dysmyelinated Shiverer brain. Our data demonstrate that direct lineage reprogramming using target cell-type-specific transcription factors can be used to induce NPC-like cells that potentially could be used for autologous cell transplantation-based therapies in the brain or spinal cord.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1121003109
View details for Web of Science ID 000300489200073
View details for PubMedID 22308465
Excitatory Modulation in the Cochlear Nucleus through Group I Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor Activation
JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE
2011; 31 (20): 7450-7455
Activation of group I metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) has been suggested to modulate development of auditory neurons. However, the acute effects of mGluR activation on physiological response properties are unclear. To address this, we studied the effects of mGluRs in bushy cells (BCs) of the mammalian anteroventral cochlear nucleus (AVCN). Activation of mGluRs with dihydroxyphenylglycine (DHPG) caused depolarization of BCs in mice as old as P42, but did not affect neurotransmitter release by presynaptic auditory nerve (AN) fibers. Application of mGluR antagonists indicated that mGluRs are tonically active, and are highly sensitive to small elevations in ambient glutamate by the glutamate reuptake blocker threo-β-benzyloxyaspartic acid (TBOA). mGluR-mediated depolarization enhanced the firing probability in response to AN stimulation, and reduced the latency and jitter. Furthermore, excitation through postsynaptic mGluRs can significantly counterbalance the inhibitory effects of presynaptic GABA(B) receptors. Thus, interaction between these two modulatory pathways may provide additional flexibility for fine-tuning the BC relay.
View details for DOI 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1193-11.2011
View details for Web of Science ID 000290716600023
View details for PubMedID 21593328
Calcium imaging of auditory nerve fiber terminals in the cochlear nucleus
JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE METHODS
2011; 195 (1): 24-29
One important model for understanding neuronal computation is how auditory information is transformed at the synapses made by auditory nerve (AN) fibers on the bushy cells (BCs) in the anteroventral cochlear nucleus (AVCN). This transformation is influenced by synaptic plasticity, the mechanisms of which have been studied primarily using postsynaptic electrophysiology. However, it is also important to make direct measurements of the presynaptic terminal to consider presynaptic mechanisms. Here we introduce a technique for doing that using calcium imaging of presynaptic AN terminals, by injecting dextran-conjugated fluorophores into the cochlea. To measure the calcium transients, we used calcium-sensitive fluorophores, and measured the changes in fluorescence upon stimulation. As an example of the application of this technique, we showed that activation of GABA(B) receptors reduces presynaptic calcium influx. This technique could be further extended to study the effects of activity- and other neuromodulator-dependent plasticities on AN terminals.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2010.11.008
View details for Web of Science ID 000287073400004
View details for PubMedID 21108967
Neuromodulation by GABA Converts a Relay Into a Coincidence Detector
JOURNAL OF NEUROPHYSIOLOGY
2010; 104 (4): 2063-2074
Modulation of synaptic strength by γ-aminobutyric acid receptors (GABARs) is a common feature in sensory pathways that contain relay cell types. However, the functional impact of these receptors on information processing is not clear. We considered this issue at bushy cells (BCs) in the cochlear nucleus, which relay auditory nerve (AN) activity to higher centers. BCs express GABA(A)Rs, and synaptic inputs to BCs express GABA(B)Rs. We tested the effects of GABAR activation on the relaying of AN activity using patch-clamp recordings in mature mouse brain slices at 34°C. GABA affected BC firing in response to trains of AN activity at concentrations as low as 10 μM. GABA(A)Rs reduced firing primarily late in high-frequency trains, whereas GABA(B)Rs reduced firing early and in low-frequency trains. BC firing was significantly restored when two converging AN inputs were activated simultaneously, with maximal effect over a window of <0.5 ms. Thus GABA could adjust the function of BCs, to suppress the relaying of individual inputs and require coincident activity of multiple inputs.
View details for DOI 10.1152/jn.00474.2010
View details for Web of Science ID 000282649900022
View details for PubMedID 20702743
A Low-Affinity Antagonist Reveals Saturation and Desensitization in Mature Synapses in the Auditory Brain Stem
JOURNAL OF NEUROPHYSIOLOGY
2010; 103 (4): 1915-1926
Postsynaptic receptor desensitization has been observed to contribute to depression in immature synapses. However, it is not clear whether desensitization persists and causes depression in mature synapses. We investigate this issue at the endbulb of Held, the synapse made by auditory nerve (AN) fibers onto bushy cells (BCs) of the anteroventral cochlear nucleus, where depression could influence the processing of sound information. Experiments using cyclothiazide (CTZ) have implicated desensitization in endbulbs from postnatal day 16 (P16) to P21 mice, but application of γ-D-glutamylglycine (DGG) did not reveal desensitization in endbulbs >P22. To reconcile these findings, we have studied the effects of both CTZ and DGG on endbulbs from P5 to P40 CBA/CaJ mice. In paired-pulse protocols, both CTZ and DGG reduced depression in all ages at intervals <10 ms, consistent with their effects preventing desensitization. However, DGG increased depression at intervals >20 ms, consistent with DGG's use to prevent saturation. DGG application revealed receptor saturation even under conditions of very low release probability. Preventing desensitization by CTZ occluded the effects of DGG on desensitization and revealed the effects of saturation at short intervals. We developed an approach to separate DGG's effect on saturation from its effect on desensitization, which showed that desensitization has an impact during bursts of auditory nerve activity. Dynamic-clamp experiments indicated that desensitization can reduce BC spike probability and increase latency and jitter. Thus desensitization may affect sound processing in the mature auditory system.
View details for DOI 10.1152/jn.00751.2009
View details for Web of Science ID 000276555800021
View details for PubMedID 20107122
Complexin-I Is Required for High-Fidelity Transmission at the Endbulb of Held Auditory Synapse
JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE
2009; 29 (25): 7991-8004
Complexins (CPXs I-IV) presumably act as regulators of the SNARE (soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptor) complex, but their function in the intact mammalian nervous system is not well established. Here, we explored the role of CPXs in the mouse auditory system. Hearing was impaired in CPX I knock-out mice but normal in knock-out mice for CPXs II, III, IV, and III/IV as measured by auditory brainstem responses. Complexins were not detectable in cochlear hair cells but CPX I was expressed in spiral ganglion neurons (SGNs) that give rise to the auditory nerve. Ca(2+)-dependent exocytosis of inner hair cells and sound encoding by SGNs were unaffected in CPX I knock-out mice. In the absence of CPX I, the resting release probability in the endbulb of Held synapses of the auditory nerve fibers with bushy cells in the cochlear nucleus was reduced. As predicted by computational modeling, bushy cells had decreased spike rates at sound onset as well as longer and more variable first spike latencies explaining the abnormal auditory brainstem responses. In addition, we found synaptic transmission to outlast the stimulus at many endbulb of Held synapses in vitro and in vivo, suggesting impaired synchronization of release to stimulus offset. Although sound encoding in the cochlea proceeds in the absence of complexins, CPX I is required for faithful processing of sound onset and offset in the cochlear nucleus.
View details for DOI 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0632-09.2009
View details for Web of Science ID 000267339000006
View details for PubMedID 19553439