Embryonic stem cells neural differentiation qualifies the role of Wnt/β-Catenin signals in human telencephalic specification and regionalization


  • Author contributions: C.N.: conception and design, collection and/or assembly of data, data analysis and interpretation, manuscript writing; C.V., C.B., A.B., P.V., and F.B.-R: collection and/or assembly of data; Y.M.: collection and/or assembly of data, data analysis and interpretation; L.A.: provision of study material; M.P.: conception and design, manuscript writing; A.L.P.: conception and design, data analysis and interpretation, manuscript writing, final approval of manuscript.


Wnt-ligands are among key morphogens that mediate patterning of the anterior territories of the developing brain in mammals. We qualified the role of Wnt-signals in regional specification and subregional organization of the human telencephalon using human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs). One step neural conversion of hPSCs using SMAD inhibitors leads to progenitors with a default rostral identity. It provides an ideal biological substrate for investigating the role of Wnt signaling in both anteroposterior and dorso-ventral processes. Challenging hPSC-neural derivatives with Wnt-antagonists, alone or combined with sonic hedgehog (Shh), we found that Wnt-inhibition promote both telencephalic specification and ventral patterning of telencephalic neural precursors in a dose-dependent manner. Using optimal Wnt-antagonist and Shh-agonist signals we produced human ventral-telencephalic precursors, committed to differentiation into striatal projection neurons both in vitro and in vivo after homotypic transplantation in quinolinate-lesioned rats. This study indicates that sequentially organized Wnt-signals play a key role in the development of human ventral telencephalic territories from which the striatum arise. In addition, the optimized production of hPSC-derived striatal cells described here offers a relevant biological resource for exploring and curing Huntington disease. Stem Cells 2013;31:1763-1774