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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2002 Sep 20;297(2):177-84.

Differentiation of embryonic stem cells into retinal neurons.

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Department of Ophthalmology, University of Nebraska Medical Center, 98-7691 Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha 68198-7691, USA.


Mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells are continuous cell lines derived from the inner mass of blastocysts. Neural progenitors derived from these cells serve as an excellent model for controlled neural differentiation and as such have tremendous potential to understand and treat neurodegenerative diseases. Here, we demonstrate that ES cell-derived neural progenitors express regulatory factors needed for retinal differentiation and that in response to epigenetic cues a subset of them differentiate along photoreceptor lineage. During the differentiation, they activate photoreceptor regulatory genes, suggesting that ES cell-derived neural progenitors recruit mechanisms normally used for photoreceptor differentiation in vivo. These observations suggest that ES cells can serve as an excellent model for understanding mechanisms that regulate specification of retinal neurons and as an unlimited source of neural progenitors for treating degenerative diseases of the retina by cell replacement.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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