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Bioessays. 1994 May;16(5):343-8.

From embryonal carcinoma cells to neurons: the P19 pathway.

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Washington University School of Medicine, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, St. Louis, MO 63110.


The differentiation of mammalian neurons during development is a highly complex process involving regulation and coordination of gene expression at multiple steps. The P19 mouse embryonal carcinoma cell line is a suitable model system with which to analyze regulation of neuronal differentiation. These multipotential cells can be maintained and propagated in tissue culture in an undifferentiated state. Exposure of aggregated P19 cells to retinoic acid results in the differentiation of cells with many fundamental phenotypes of mammalian neurons. Undifferentiated P19 cells are amenable to genetic manipulations such as transfection and establishment of stable clonal cell lines expressing introduced genes. Proteins that play a key role in the neuronal differentiation of P19 cells are beginning to be identified. These include retinoic acid receptors, the epidermal growth factor receptor and the transcription factors Oct-3 and Brn-2. The biological and technical advantages of this system should facilitate deeper analysis of the activities of proteins that play a role in neuronal differentiation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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