Stem cells and development

Isolation and propagation of neural crest stem cells from mouse embryonic stem cells via cranial neurospheres.

PMID 25141025


The developmental fate of the multipotent neural crest (NC) is determined along with the neural axis in which NC cells are generated. Only the cranial NC can differentiate into mesectodermal derivatives such as osteoblasts, chondrocytes, and adipocytes in vivo. Here, we attempted to selectively differentiate mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells into cranial NC stem cells and propagate them to explore their developmental potential to differentiate into mesectodermal derivatives. Using aggregation cultures in feeder- and serum-free neural induction medium (NIM) without serum replacement and l-glutamine, we obtained NIM neurospheres composed of neuroepithelium. The NIM neurospheres expressed the rostral markers Otx1 and Otx2, but not nonrostral markers Hoxb4, Hoxb9, Lbx1, and TH, which characterize cranial neurospheres. Subsequently, AP2α, Sox9, p75, Snail, Slug, and Twist-positive NC cells were differentiated in 4-day adhesion cultures of cranial neurospheres. In addition, sphere clusters in adhesion cultures were differentiated into osteoblasts, while migrating cells were not. By taking advantage of the sphere-formation capability, we isolated and propagated NC stem cells from the sphere clusters and confirmed their multipotency. NC stem cells expressed NC and stem cell markers, and they maintained differentiation potency in the NC derivatives. These results show that cranial NC stem cells were obtained reproducibly and efficiently without special inducing factors, gene transfection, or fluorescence-activated cell sorting selection.