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J Neurochem. 2012 Jul;122(1):81-93. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2012.07724.x. Epub 2012 Apr 4.

A simplified method to generate serotonergic neurons from mouse embryonic stem and induced pluripotent stem cells.

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Laboratory of Molecular Neuropharmacology, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Osaka University, Suita, Osaka, Japan.


We have developed a new simple method to induce serotonergic neurons from embryonic stem (ES) and induced pluripotent stem cells. When ES or induced pluripotent stem cells were cultured on a thick gel layer of Matrigel, most colonies extended TuJ1-positive neurites. We found that noggin, a known antagonist of bone morphogenic protein, induces ES cells to express genes involved in serotonergic differentiation, such as Nkx2.2, Pet-1, Sonic hedgehog, tryptophan hydroxylase 2, and serotonin transporter, as well as increases high potassium-induced release of serotonin. To concentrate serotonergic neurons, ES cells carrying Pet-1-enhancer-driven enhanced green fluorescent protein were differentiated and sorted into about 80% pure cultures of serotonergic neurons. Whole cell voltage-clamp recordings showed a voltage-dependent current in dissociated neurons. This simplified method provides an alternative option for serotonergic differentiation of pluripotent stem cells and will likely contribute a deeper understanding regarding the nature of serotonergic neurons and open new therapeutic perspectives for the treatment of psychiatric disorders.

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