• differentiation;
  • stromal cell-derived inducing activity;
  • TGF-b3;
  • Wnt-5a


Neural induction of midbrain dopaminergic (DA) neurons from embryonic stem (ES) cells can be achieved by culturing them on a bone marrow-derived stromal cell line, PA6, which possesses stromal cell-derived inducing activity (SDIA). The mechanism of SDIA is unknown, but clinical application of ES cell transplantation requires the use of defined factors for DA neuron induction. Here, we demonstrate that meningeal cells harvested from the developing dura can induce DA neuron differentiation from mouse and human ES cells, as assessed by midbrain DA marker expression and secretion of DA in response to potassium stimuli. Intriguingly, the inductive strength of meningeal cells depends on their developmental stage, with those harvested from embryonic day 18 embryos showing the highest activity. Among six soluble factors known to be involved in DA neuron differentiation, only Wnt-5a and transforming growth factor-β3 were expressed by both meningeal and PA6 cells, and the expression of Wnt-5a correlated with the DA neuron induction activity of these cells. Furthermore, the induction of DA neuron differentiation by PA6 cell-conditioned medium was reversed by addition of a Wnt-5a neutralizing antibody, whereas recombinant Wnt-5a promoted DA neuron induction when cells were cultured on Matrigel. These results indicate that meningeal cells can be used as feeders to induce DA neurons from ES cells, and that Wnt-5a plays an important role in DA neuron induction by SDIA.