Transcription Factor Programming of Human Pluripotent Stem Cells to Functionally Mature Astrocytes for Monocultures and Cocultures with Neurons

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Abstract

Astrocytes are essential cells for normal brain functionality and have recently emerged as key players in many neurological diseases. However, the limited availability of human primary astrocytes for cell culture studies hinders our understanding of their physiology and precise role in disease development and progression. Here, we describe a detailed step-by-step protocol to rapidly and efficiently generate functionally mature induced astrocytes (iAs) from human embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells (hES/iPSCs). Astrocyte induction is accomplished by ectopic lentiviral expression of two gliogenic transcription factors, Sox9 and Nfib. iAs exhibit morphology features as well as gene and protein expression similar to human mature astrocytes and display important astrocytic functions, such as glutamate uptake, propagation of calcium waves, expression of various cytokines after stimulation, and support of synapse formation and function, making them suitable models for studying the role of astrocytes in health and disease. Moreover, we describe a procedure for cryopreservation of iAs for long-term storage or shipping. Finally, we provide the required information needed to set up cocultures with human induced neurons (iNs, also described in this book), generated from hES/iPSCs, to generate cocultures, allowing studies on astrocyte-neuron interactions and providing new insights in astrocyte-associated disease mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNeural Reprogramming: Methods and Protocols
PublisherHumana Press
Pages133-148
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-0716-1601-7
ISBN (Print)978-1-0716-1600-0
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
Volume2352
ISSN (Print)1064-3745
ISSN (Electronic)1940-6029

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Neurosciences

Free keywords

  • Astrocyte-neuron cocultures
  • Astrocytes
  • Direct conversion
  • Reprogramming
  • Stem cells

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