Sadegh C, Ebina W, Arvanites AC, Davidow LS, Rubin LL, Macklis JD. 2021. Synthetic modified Fezf2 mRNA (modRNA) with concurrent small molecule SIRT1 inhibition enhances refinement of cortical subcerebral/corticospinal neuron identity from mouse embryonic stem cells. PloS one. 16(9):e0254113. Pubmed: 34473715 DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0254113


During late embryonic development of the cerebral cortex, the major class of cortical output neurons termed subcerebral projection neurons (SCPN; including the predominant population of corticospinal neurons, CSN) and the class of interhemispheric callosal projection neurons (CPN) initially express overlapping molecular controls that later undergo subtype-specific refinements. Such molecular refinements are largely absent in heterogeneous, maturation-stalled, neocortical-like neurons (termed "cortical" here) spontaneously generated by established embryonic stem cell (ES) and induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) differentiation. Building on recently identified central molecular controls over SCPN development, we used a combination of synthetic modified mRNA (modRNA) for Fezf2, the central transcription factor controlling SCPN specification, and small molecule screening to investigate whether distinct chromatin modifiers might complement Fezf2 functions to promote SCPN-specific differentiation by mouse ES (mES)-derived cortical-like neurons. We find that the inhibition of a specific histone deacetylase, Sirtuin 1 (SIRT1), enhances refinement of SCPN subtype molecular identity by both mES-derived cortical-like neurons and primary dissociated E12.5 mouse cortical neurons. In vivo, we identify that SIRT1 is specifically expressed by CPN, but not SCPN, during late embryonic and postnatal differentiation. Together, these data indicate that SIRT1 has neuronal subtype-specific expression in the mouse cortex in vivo, and that its inhibition enhances subtype-specific differentiation of highly clinically relevant SCPN / CSN cortical neurons in vitro.

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Photo of Jeffrey D. Macklis

Jeffrey Macklis investigates molecular controls and mechanisms over neuron subtype specification, development, diversity, axon guidance-circuit formation, and pathology in the cerebral cortex. His lab seeks to apply developmental controls toward brain and spinal cord regeneration and directed differentiation for in vitro mechanistic modeling using human assembloids.

Photo of Lee Rubin

Lee Rubin investigates the key molecular mediators of different neurodegenerative diseases, with the ultimate goal of finding effective preclinical therapeutic candidates.

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