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Keywords:

  • neural tube;
  • motoneuron;
  • myotube;
  • neurite growth;
  • neuronal differentiation

Abstract

Postmitotic neurons were generated from the human NT2 teratocarcinoma cell line in a novel cell aggregate differentiation procedure. Approximately a third of the differentiated neurons expressed cell markers related to cholinergic neurotransmission. To examine whether this human cell model system can be directed toward a motoneuronal fate, postmitotic neurons were co-cultured with mouse myotubes. Outgrowing neuronal processes established close contact with the myotubes and formed neuromuscular junction-like structures that bound α-bungarotoxin. To determine how grafted precursor cells and neurons respond to embryonic nerve tissue, NT2 cells at different stages of neural development were injected into chick embryo neural tube and brain. Grafted NT2 neurons populated both parts of the nervous system, sometimes migrating away from the site of injection. The neural tube appeared to be more permissive for neurite extensions than the brain. Moreover, extending neurites of spinal grafts were approaching the ventral roots, thus resembling motoneuronal projections. Developmental Dynamics 239:496–504, 2010. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.