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Li H.,Columbia University | Kuwajima T.,Columbia University | Oakley D.,Massachusetts General Hospital | Nikulina E.,York College - The City University of New York | And 12 more authors.
Cell Reports | Year: 2016

Suboptimal axonal regeneration contributes to the consequences of nervous system trauma and neurodegenerative disease, but the intrinsic mechanisms that regulate axon growth remain unclear. We screened 50,400 small molecules for their ability to promote axon outgrowth on inhibitory substrata. The most potent hits were the statins, which stimulated growth of all mouse- and human-patient-derived neurons tested, both in vitro and in vivo, as did combined inhibition of the protein prenylation enzymes farnesyltransferase (PFT) and geranylgeranyl transferase I (PGGT-1). Compensatory sprouting of motor axons may delay clinical onset of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Accordingly, elevated levels of . PGGT1B, which would be predicted to reduce sprouting, were found in motor neurons of early- versus late-onset ALS patients postmortem. The mevalonate-prenylation pathway therefore constitutes an endogenous brake on axonal growth, and its inhibition provides a potential therapeutic approach to accelerate neuronal regeneration in humans. Using a high-throughput phenotypic screen, Li et al. identify statins and inhibitors of protein prenylation as potent neurite-outgrowth-promoting agents. High levels of prenylation enzyme are found in patients with earlier-onset forms of ALS. Prenylation may limit axonal growth in both normal and pathological situations. © 2016.


Lamas N.J.,Project Als Jenifer Estess Laboratory For Stem Cell Research | Lamas N.J.,Columbia University | Lamas N.J.,University of Minho | Lamas N.J.,Icvs 3Bs Pt Government Assoc Labor | And 11 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Human motor neurons derived from embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells (hESCs and hiPSCs) are a potentially important tool for studying motor neuron survival and pathological cell death. However, their basic survival requirements remain poorly characterized. Here, we sought to optimize a robust survival assay and characterize their response to different neurotrophic factors. First, to increase motor neuron yield, we screened a small-molecule collection and found that the Rhoassociated kinase (ROCK) inhibitor Y-27632 enhances motor neuron progenitor proliferation up to 4-fold in hESC and hiPSC cultures. Next, we FACS-purified motor neurons expressing the Hb9::GFP reporter from Y-27632-amplified embryoid bodies and cultured them in the presence of mitotic inhibitors to eliminate dividing progenitors. Survival of these purified motor neurons in the absence of any other cell type was strongly dependent on neurotrophic support. GDNF, BDNF and CNTF all showed potent survival effects (EC 50 1-2 pM). The number of surviving motor neurons was further enhanced in the presence of forskolin and IBMX, agents that increase endogenous cAMP levels. As a demonstration of the ability of the assay to detect novel neurotrophic agents, Y-27632 itself was found to support human motor neuron survival. Thus, purified human stem cell-derived motor neurons show survival requirements similar to those of primary rodent motor neurons and can be used for rigorous cell-based screening. © 2014 Lamas et al.


PubMed | University of America, University of Minho and Project Als Jenifer Estess Laboratory For Stem Cell Research
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2014

Human motor neurons derived from embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells (hESCs and hiPSCs) are a potentially important tool for studying motor neuron survival and pathological cell death. However, their basic survival requirements remain poorly characterized. Here, we sought to optimize a robust survival assay and characterize their response to different neurotrophic factors. First, to increase motor neuron yield, we screened a small-molecule collection and found that the Rho-associated kinase (ROCK) inhibitor Y-27632 enhances motor neuron progenitor proliferation up to 4-fold in hESC and hiPSC cultures. Next, we FACS-purified motor neurons expressing the Hb9::GFP reporter from Y-27632-amplified embryoid bodies and cultured them in the presence of mitotic inhibitors to eliminate dividing progenitors. Survival of these purified motor neurons in the absence of any other cell type was strongly dependent on neurotrophic support. GDNF, BDNF and CNTF all showed potent survival effects (EC(50) 1-2 pM). The number of surviving motor neurons was further enhanced in the presence of forskolin and IBMX, agents that increase endogenous cAMP levels. As a demonstration of the ability of the assay to detect novel neurotrophic agents, Y-27632 itself was found to support human motor neuron survival. Thus, purified human stem cell-derived motor neurons show survival requirements similar to those of primary rodent motor neurons and can be used for rigorous cell-based screening.


PubMed | New York Stem Cell Foundation, Project Als Jenifer Estess Laboratory For Stem Cell Research, Ghent University, University of South Alabama and 2 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Human molecular genetics | Year: 2015

Giant axonal neuropathy (GAN) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease caused by autosomal recessive mutations in the GAN gene resulting in a loss of a ubiquitously expressed protein, gigaxonin. Gene replacement therapy is a promising strategy for treatment of the disease; however, the effectiveness and safety of gigaxonin reintroduction have not been tested in human GAN nerve cells. Here we report the derivation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from three GAN patients with different GAN mutations. Motor neurons differentiated from GAN iPSCs exhibit accumulation of neurofilament (NF-L) and peripherin (PRPH) protein and formation of PRPH aggregates, the key pathological phenotypes observed in patients. Introduction of gigaxonin either using a lentiviral vector or as a stable transgene resulted in normalization of NEFL and PRPH levels in GAN neurons and disappearance of PRPH aggregates. Importantly, overexpression of gigaxonin had no adverse effect on survival of GAN neurons, supporting the feasibility of gene replacement therapy. Our findings demonstrate that GAN iPSCs provide a novel model for studying human GAN neuropathologies and for the development and testing of new therapies in relevant cell types.


Takazawa T.,Columbia University | Takazawa T.,Project Als Jenifer Estess Laboratory For Stem Cell Research | Croft G.F.,Columbia University | Croft G.F.,Project Als Jenifer Estess Laboratory For Stem Cell Research | And 7 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

Our understanding of motor neuron biology in humans is derived mainly from investigation of human postmortem tissue and more indirectly from live animal models such as rodents. Thus generation of motor neurons from human embryonic stem cells and human induced pluripotent stem cells is an important new approach to model motor neuron function. To be useful models of human motor neuron function, cells generated in vitro should develop mature properties that are the hallmarks of motor neurons in vivo such as elaborated neuronal processes and mature electrophysiological characteristics. Here we have investigated changes in morphological and electrophysiological properties associated with maturation of neurons differentiated from human embryonic stem cells expressing GFP driven by a motor neuron specific reporter (Hb9::GFP) in culture. We observed maturation in cellular morphology seen as more complex neurite outgrowth and increased soma area over time. Electrophysiological changes included decreasing input resistance and increasing action potential firing frequency over 13 days in vitro. Furthermore, these human embryonic stem cell derived motor neurons acquired two physiological characteristics that are thought to underpin motor neuron integrated function in motor circuits; spike frequency adaptation and rebound action potential firing. These findings show that human embryonic stem cell derived motor neurons develop functional characteristics typical of spinal motor neurons in vivo and suggest that they are a relevant and useful platform for studying motor neuron development and function and for modeling motor neuron diseases. © 2012 Takazawa et al.


PubMed | Project Als Jenifer Estess Laboratory For Stem Cell Research, Harvard University and Cedars Sinai Medical Center
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Nature neuroscience | Year: 2016

Modeling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) with human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) aims to reenact embryogenesis, maturation and aging of spinal motor neurons (spMNs) in vitro. As the maturity of spMNs grown in vitro compared to spMNs in vivo remains largely unaddressed, it is unclear to what extent this in vitro system captures critical aspects of spMN development and molecular signatures associated with ALS. Here, we compared transcriptomes among iPSC-derived spMNs, fetal spinal tissues and adult spinal tissues. This approach produced a maturation scale revealing that iPSC-derived spMNs were more similar to fetal spinal tissue than to adult spMNs. Additionally, we resolved gene networks and pathways associated with spMN maturation and aging. These networks enriched for pathogenic familial ALS genetic variants and were disrupted in sporadic ALS spMNs. Altogether, our findings suggest that developing strategies to further mature and age iPSC-derived spMNs will provide more effective iPSC models of ALS pathology.

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