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Stem Cell Rev. 2011 Sep;7(3):703-13. doi: 10.1007/s12015-010-9210-x.

Generation of induced pluripotent stem cell lines from Friedreich ataxia patients.

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Centre for Reproduction and Development, Monash Institute of Medical Research, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.


Friedreich ataxia (FRDA) is an autosomal recessive disorder characterised by neurodegeneration and cardiomyopathy. It is caused by a trinucleotide (GAA) repeat expansion in the first intron of the FXN gene that results in reduced synthesis of FXN mRNA and its protein product, frataxin. We report the generation of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell lines derived from skin fibroblasts from two FRDA patients. Each of the patient-derived iPS (FA-iPS) cell lines maintain the GAA repeat expansion and the reduced FXN mRNA expression that are characteristic of the patient. The FA-iPS cells are pluripotent and form teratomas when injected into nude mice. We demonstrate that following in vitro differentiation the FA-iPS cells give rise to the two cell types primarily affected in FRDA, peripheral neurons and cardiomyocytes. The FA-iPS cell lines have the potential to provide valuable models to study the cellular pathology of FRDA and to develop high-throughput drug screening assays. We have previously demonstrated that stable insertion of a functional human BAC containing the intact FXN gene into stem cells results in the expression of frataxin protein in differentiated neurons. As such, iPS cell lines derived from FRDA patients, following correction of the mutated gene, could provide a useful source of immunocompatible cells for transplantation therapy.

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