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Keywords:

  • glutamine receptors and synapses;
  • murine stem cell derived neurons;
  • Na+ & K+ channels;
  • patch clamp

Abstract

Sx1TV2/16C is a mouse embryonic stem (ES) cell line in which one copy of the Sox1 gene, an early neuroectodermal marker, has been targeted with a neomycin (G418) selection cassette. A combination of directed differentiation with retinoic acid and G418 selection results in an enriched neural stem cell population that can be further differentiated into neurons. After 6–7 days post-plating (D6–7PP) most neurons readily fired tetrodotoxin (TTX)-sensitive action potentials due to the expression of TTX-sensitive Na+ and tetraethylammonium (TEA)-sensitive K+ channels. Neurons reached their maximal cell capacitance after D6–7PP; however, ion channel expression continued until at least D21PP. The percentage of cells receiving spontaneous synaptic currents (s.s.c.) increased with days in culture until 100% of cells received a synaptic input by D20PP. Spontaneous synaptic currents were reduced in amplitude and frequency by TTX, or upon exposure to a Ca2+-free, 2.5 mm Mg2+ saline. S.s.c. of rapid decay time constants were preferentially blocked by the nonNMDA glutamatergic receptor antagonists CNQX or NBQX. Ca2+ levels within ES cell-derived neurons increased in response to glutamate receptor agonists l-glutamate, AMPA, N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) and kainic acid and to acetylcholine, ATP and dopamine. ES cell-derived neurons also generated cationic and Cl-selective currents in response to NMDA and glycine or GABA, respectively. It was concluded that ES-derived neurons fire action potentials, receive excitatory and inhibitory synaptic input and respond to various neurotransmitters in a manner akin to primary central neurons.