Chemical Conversion of Human Fibroblasts into Functional Schwann Cells

Thoma EC, Merkl C, Heckel T, Haab R, Knoflach F, Nowaczyk C, Flint N, Jagasia R, Zoffmann SJ, Truong HH, Petitjean P, Jessberger S, Graf M, Iacone R
Source: Other
Publication Date: (2012)
Issue: 3: 1-9
Research Area:
Stem Cells
Basic Research
Cells used in publication:
Dorsal root gang. (DRG), rat
Species: rat
Tissue Origin: brain
Direct transdifferentiation of somatic cells is a promising approach to obtain patient-specific cells for numerous applications. However, conversion across germ-layer borders often requires ectopic gene expression with unpredictable side effects. Here, we present a gene-free approach that allows efficient conversion of human fibroblasts via a transient progenitor stage into Schwann cells, the major glial cell type of peripheral nerves. Using a multikinase inhibitor, we transdifferentiated fibroblasts into transient neural precursors that were subsequently further differentiated into Schwann cells. The resulting induced Schwann cells (iSCs) expressed numerous Schwann cell-specific proteins and displayed neurosupportive and myelination capacity in vitro. Thus, we established a strategy to obtain mature Schwann cells from human postnatal fibroblasts under chemically defined conditions without the introduction of ectopic genes.