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J Biomol Screen. 2014 Jan;19(1):32-43. doi: 10.1177/1087057113501869. Epub 2013 Sep 9.

Functional screening assays with neurons generated from pluripotent stem cell-derived neural stem cells.

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1National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.


Rapid and effective drug discovery for neurodegenerative disease is currently impeded by an inability to source primary neural cells for high-throughput and phenotypic screens. This limitation can be addressed through the use of pluripotent stem cells (PSCs), which can be derived from patient-specific samples and differentiated to neural cells for use in identifying novel compounds for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. We have developed an efficient protocol to culture pure populations of neurons, as confirmed by gene expression analysis, in the 96-well format necessary for screens. These differentiated neurons were subjected to viability assays to illustrate their potential in future high-throughput screens. We have also shown that organelles such as nuclei and mitochondria could be live-labeled and visualized through fluorescence, suggesting that we should be able to monitor subcellular phenotypic changes. Neurons derived from a green fluorescent protein-expressing reporter line of PSCs were live-imaged to assess markers of neuronal maturation such as neurite length and co-cultured with astrocytes to demonstrate further maturation. These studies confirm that PSC-derived neurons can be used effectively in viability and functional assays and pave the way for high-throughput screens on neurons derived from patients with neurodegenerative disorders.


drug discovery; neural stem cells; neurons

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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