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Keywords:

  • Parkinson's disease;
  • Drug discovery;
  • Neural patterning;
  • Transplantation

Abstract

By sequentially applying sonic hedgehog (C25II) and CHIR99021 (GSK3β inhibitor) to induce the midbrain floor plate (FP) progenitors and fibroblast growth factor 8 (FGF8) to promote dopaminergic differentiation in a chemically defined medium, we have established a robust system for the generation of midbrain dopamine (DA) neurons from human and rhesus monkey embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells (PSCs). We found that CHIR99021 specifies diencephalon to hind brain fates in a concentration-dependent manner and only a narrow concentration range of CHIR99021 at a particular window is necessary to induce the midbrain FP progenitors, expressing Corin, En1, FoxA2, and Lmx1a. FGF8 enhances the dopaminergic fate of the progenitors, thus generating DA neurons with midbrain characteristics, including expression of tyrosine hydroxylase, Lmx1a/b, FoxA2, FoxP1, Nurr1, and En1 as well as typical electrophysiological properties. More than half of these DA neurons expressed A9 DA neuron markers Girk2 and ALDH1a1. The new strategy will allow generation of enriched populations of functional midbrain DA neurons from both human and monkey PSCs for disease modeling, drug testing, and potential cell therapy. STEM CELLS2012;30:1655–1663