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PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e41506. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0041506. Epub 2012 Jul 31.

Neuronal transcription factors induce conversion of human glioma cells to neurons and inhibit tumorigenesis.

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  • 1Institute of Neuroscience, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China.


Recent findings have demonstrated that the overexpression of lineage-specific transcription factors induces cell fate changes among diverse cell types. For example, neurons can be generated from mouse and human fibroblasts. It is well known that neurons are terminally differentiated cells that do not divide. Therefore, we consider how to induce glioma cells to become neurons by introducing transcription factors. Here, we describe the efficient generation of induced neuronal (iN) cells from glioma cells by the infection with three transcription factors: Ascl1, Brn2 and Ngn2 (ABN). iN cells expressed multiple neuronal markers and fired action potentials, similar to the properties of authentic neurons. Importantly, the proliferation of glioma cells following ABN overexpression was dramatically inhibited in both in vitro and in vivo experiments. In addition, iN cells that originated from human glioma cells did not continue to grow when they were sorted and cultured in vitro. The strategies by which glioma cells are induced to become neurons may be used to clinically study methods for inhibiting tumor growth.

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