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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

One-step induction of neurons from mouse embryonic stem cells in serum-free media containing vitamin B12 and heparin.

We present a simple method for neural cell fate specification directly from mouse embryonic stem cells (ES cells) in serum-free conditions in the absence of embryoid body formation. Dissociated ES cells were cultured in serum-free media supplemented with vitamin B12 and heparin, but without any expensive cytokines. After 14 days in culture, beta-tubulin type III (TuJ1) and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-positive colonies were detected by immunocytochemical examinations. In addition, specific gene analyses by RT-PCR demonstrated expression of an early central nerve system, mature neuron, and midbrain dopaminergic neuron-specific molecules (i.e., nestin, middle molecular mass neurofilament protein, Nurr1, and TH, respectively). Dopamine was also detected in the culture media by reverse-phase HPLC analysis. These facts indicate that addition of vitamin B12/heparin to serum-free culture media induced neurons from ES cells, which included cells that released dopamine. Other supplements, such as putrescine, biotin, and Fe2+, could not induce neurons from ES cells by themselves, but produced synergistic effects with vitamin B12/heparin. The rate of TuJ1+/TH+ colony formation was increased threefold and the amounts of dopamine released increased 1.5-fold by the addition of a mixture of putrescine, biotin, and Fe2+ to vitamin B12/heparin culture media. Our method is a simple tool to differentiate ES cells to dopaminergic neurons for the preparation of dopamine-releasing cells for the cell transplantation therapy of Parkinson's disease. In addition, this method can facilitate the discovery of soluble factors and genes that can aid in the induction of the ES cell to its neural fate.[1]


  1. One-step induction of neurons from mouse embryonic stem cells in serum-free media containing vitamin B12 and heparin. Yamazoe, H., Kobori, M., Murakami, Y., Yano, K., Satoh, M., Mizuseki, K., Sasai, Y., Iwata, H. Cell transplantation. (2006) [Pubmed]
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