Professional Education


  • Bachelor of Science, University of Wisconsin Madison, Biochemistry, Microbiology (2008)
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Stanford University, MI-PHD (2016)

Stanford Advisors


All Publications


  • A central amygdala to zona incerta projection is required for acquisition and remote recall of conditioned fear memory. Nature neuroscience Zhou, M., Liu, Z., Melin, M. D., Ng, Y. H., Xu, W., Sudhof, T. C. 2018

    Abstract

    The formation and retrieval of conditioned fear memories critically depend on the amygdala. Here we identify an inhibitory projection from somatostatin-positive neurons in the central amygdala to parvalbumin-positive neurons in the zona incerta that is required for both recent and remote fear memories. Thus, the amygdala inhibitory input to parvalbumin-positive neurons in the zona incerta, a nucleus not previously implicated in fear memory, is an essential component of the fear memory circuitry.

    View details for PubMedID 30349111

  • Generation of pure GABAergic neurons by transcription factor programming. Nature methods Yang, N., Chanda, S., Marro, S., Ng, Y., Janas, J. A., Haag, D., Ang, C. E., Tang, Y., Flores, Q., Mall, M., Wapinski, O., Li, M., Ahlenius, H., Rubenstein, J. L., Chang, H. Y., Buylla, A. A., Südhof, T. C., Wernig, M. 2017; 14 (6): 621-628

    Abstract

    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

  • Induction of functional dopamine neurons from human astrocytes in vitro and mouse astrocytes in a Parkinson's disease model NATURE BIOTECHNOLOGY Cervo, P. R., Romanov, R. A., Spigolon, G., Masini, D., Martin-Montanez, E., Toledo, E. M., La Manno, G., Feyder, M., Pifl, C., Ng, Y., Sanchez, S. P., Linnarsson, S., Wernig, M., Harkany, T., Fisone, G., Arenas, E. 2017; 35 (5): 444-?

    Abstract

    Cell replacement therapies for neurodegenerative disease have focused on transplantation of the cell types affected by the pathological process. Here we describe an alternative strategy for Parkinson's disease in which dopamine neurons are generated by direct conversion of astrocytes. Using three transcription factors, NEUROD1, ASCL1 and LMX1A, and the microRNA miR218, collectively designated NeAL218, we reprogram human astrocytes in vitro, and mouse astrocytes in vivo, into induced dopamine neurons (iDANs). Reprogramming efficiency in vitro is improved by small molecules that promote chromatin remodeling and activate the TGFβ, Shh and Wnt signaling pathways. The reprogramming efficiency of human astrocytes reaches up to 16%, resulting in iDANs with appropriate midbrain markers and excitability. In a mouse model of Parkinson's disease, NeAL218 alone reprograms adult striatal astrocytes into iDANs that are excitable and correct some aspects of motor behavior in vivo, including gait impairments. With further optimization, this approach may enable clinical therapies for Parkinson's disease by delivery of genes rather than cells.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nbt.3835

    View details for Web of Science ID 000400809800019

    View details for PubMedID 28398344

  • Early reprogramming regulators identified by prospective isolation and mass cytometry NATURE Lujan, E., Zunder, E. R., Ng, Y. H., Goronzy, I. N., Nolan, G. P., Wernig, M. 2015; 521 (7552): 352-?

    Abstract

    In the context of most induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell reprogramming methods, heterogeneous populations of non-productive and staggered productive intermediates arise at different reprogramming time points. Despite recent reports claiming substantially increased reprogramming efficiencies using genetically modified donor cells, prospectively isolating distinct reprogramming intermediates remains an important goal to decipher reprogramming mechanisms. Previous attempts to identify surface markers of intermediate cell populations were based on the assumption that, during reprogramming, cells progressively lose donor cell identity and gradually acquire iPS cell properties. Here we report that iPS cell and epithelial markers, such as SSEA1 and EpCAM, respectively, are not predictive of reprogramming during early phases. Instead, in a systematic functional surface marker screen, we find that early reprogramming-prone cells express a unique set of surface markers, including CD73, CD49d and CD200, that are absent in both fibroblasts and iPS cells. Single-cell mass cytometry and prospective isolation show that these distinct intermediates are transient and bridge the gap between donor cell silencing and pluripotency marker acquisition during the early, presumably stochastic, reprogramming phase. Expression profiling reveals early upregulation of the transcriptional regulators Nr0b1 and Etv5 in this reprogramming state, preceding activation of key pluripotency regulators such as Rex1 (also known as Zfp42), Dppa2, Nanog and Sox2. Both factors are required for the generation of the early intermediate state and fully reprogrammed iPS cells, and thus represent some of the earliest known regulators of iPS cell induction. Our study deconvolutes the first steps in a hierarchical series of events that lead to pluripotency acquisition.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nature14274

    View details for Web of Science ID 000354816500056

    View details for PubMedID 25830878

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4441548

  • Inhibition of pluripotency networks by the rb tumor suppressor restricts reprogramming and tumorigenesis. Cell stem cell Kareta, M. S., Gorges, L. L., Hafeez, S., Benayoun, B. A., Marro, S., Zmoos, A., Cecchini, M. J., Spacek, D., Batista, L. F., O'Brien, M., Ng, Y., Ang, C. E., Vaka, D., Artandi, S. E., Dick, F. A., Brunet, A., Sage, J., Wernig, M. 2015; 16 (1): 39-50

    Abstract

    Mutations in the retinoblastoma tumor suppressor gene Rb are involved in many forms of human cancer. In this study, we investigated the early consequences of inactivating Rb in the context of cellular reprogramming. We found that Rb inactivation promotes the reprogramming of differentiated cells to a pluripotent state. Unexpectedly, this effect is cell cycle independent, and instead reflects direct binding of Rb to pluripotency genes, including Sox2 and Oct4, which leads to a repressed chromatin state. More broadly, this regulation of pluripotency networks and Sox2 in particular is critical for the initiation of tumors upon loss of Rb in mice. These studies therefore identify Rb as a global transcriptional repressor of pluripotency networks, providing a molecular basis for previous reports about its involvement in cell fate pliability, and implicate misregulation of pluripotency factors such as Sox2 in tumorigenesis related to loss of Rb function.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.stem.2014.10.019

    View details for PubMedID 25467916

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4389904

  • Hierarchical Mechanisms for Direct Reprogramming of Fibroblasts to Neurons CELL Wapinski, O. L., Vierbuchen, T., Qu, K., Lee, Q. Y., Chanda, S., Fuentes, D. R., Giresi, P. G., Ng, Y. H., Marro, S., Neff, N. F., Drechsel, D., Martynoga, B., Castro, D. S., Webb, A. E., Suedhof, T. C., Brunet, A., Guillemot, F., Chang, H. Y., Wernig, M. 2013; 155 (3): 621-635

    Abstract

    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 PubMedID 24243019

  • Generation of oligodendroglial cells by direct lineage conversion. Nature biotechnology Yang, N., Zuchero, J. B., Ahlenius, H., Marro, S., Ng, Y. H., Vierbuchen, T., Hawkins, J. S., Geissler, R., Barres, B. A., Wernig, M. 2013; 31 (5): 434-439

    Abstract

    Transplantation of oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) is a promising potential therapeutic strategy for diseases affecting myelin. However, the derivation of engraftable OPCs from human pluripotent stem cells has proven difficult and primary OPCs are not readily available. Here we report the generation of induced OPCs (iOPCs) by direct lineage conversion. Forced expression of the three transcription factors Sox10, Olig2 and Zfp536 was sufficient to reprogram mouse and rat fibroblasts into iOPCs with morphologies and gene expression signatures resembling primary OPCs. More importantly, iOPCs gave rise to mature oligodendrocytes that could ensheath multiple host axons when co-cultured with primary dorsal root ganglion cells and formed myelin after transplantation into shiverer mice. We propose direct lineage reprogramming as a viable alternative approach for the generation of OPCs for use in disease modeling and regenerative medicine.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nbt.2564

    View details for PubMedID 23584610

  • Generation of oligodendroglial cells by direct lineage conversion. Nature biotechnology Yang, N., Zuchero, J. B., Ahlenius, H., Marro, S., Ng, Y. H., Vierbuchen, T., Hawkins, J. S., Geissler, R., Barres, B. A., Wernig, M. 2013; 31 (5): 434-439

    Abstract

    Transplantation of oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) is a promising potential therapeutic strategy for diseases affecting myelin. However, the derivation of engraftable OPCs from human pluripotent stem cells has proven difficult and primary OPCs are not readily available. Here we report the generation of induced OPCs (iOPCs) by direct lineage conversion. Forced expression of the three transcription factors Sox10, Olig2 and Zfp536 was sufficient to reprogram mouse and rat fibroblasts into iOPCs with morphologies and gene expression signatures resembling primary OPCs. More importantly, iOPCs gave rise to mature oligodendrocytes that could ensheath multiple host axons when co-cultured with primary dorsal root ganglion cells and formed myelin after transplantation into shiverer mice. We propose direct lineage reprogramming as a viable alternative approach for the generation of OPCs for use in disease modeling and regenerative medicine.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nbt.2564

    View details for PubMedID 23584610

  • Induced Neuronal Cells: How to Make and Define a Neuron CELL STEM CELL Yang, N., Ng, Y. H., Pang, Z. P., Suedhof, T. C., Wernig, M. 2011; 9 (6): 517-525

    Abstract

    Cellular plasticity is a major focus of investigation in developmental biology. The recent discovery that induced neuronal (iN) cells can be generated from mouse and human fibroblasts by expression of defined transcription factors suggested that cell fate plasticity is much wider than previously anticipated. In this review, we summarize the most recent developments in this nascent field and suggest criteria to help define and categorize iN cells that take into account the complexity of neuronal identity.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.stem.2011.11.015

    View details for PubMedID 22136927