Transcriptional Programming of Human Mechanosensory Neuron Subtypes
73 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2019 Sneak Peek Status: Review CompleteMore...
In vitro generation of human peripheral sensory neurons may provide a framework for novel drug screening platforms and disease models of touch and pain. However, derivation of a functionally pure sensory neuron population remains a major unmet challenge. We discovered that, by expressing the transcription factors NGN2 and BRN3A, human pluripotent stem cells can be induced to differentiate into a surprisingly homogenous culture of cold- and mechano-sensing neurons. Although such a neuronal subtype has not been reported in mice, we found molecular evidence of its existence in adult human sensory ganglia. Combining NGN2 and BRN3A programming with neural crest patterning, we produced two additional populations of sensory neurons, including a more specialized mechanosensory neuron subtype. Finally, we applied this system to model a rare inherited sensory disorder, characterized by profound impairment of touch sensation and proprioception, caused by inactivating mutations in PIEZO2. Together these findings establish an approach to specify distinct sensory neuron subtypes in vitro, underscoring the utility of stem cell technology to capture human-specific features of physiology and disease.
Keywords: Stem Cells, Touch, Neuronal Differentiation, PIEZO2, TRPM8, mechanosensation, Somatosensation, iPSCs
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation