A new method for generating high purity motoneurons from mouse embryonic stem cells. Academic Article uri icon


  • A common problem with using embryonic stem (ES) cells as a source for analysis of gene expression, drug toxicity, or functional characterization studies is the heterogeneity that results from many differentiation protocols. The ability to generate large numbers of high purity differentiated cells from pluripotent stem cells could greatly enhance their utility for in vitro characterization studies and transplantation in pre-clinical injury models. Population heterogeneity is particularly troublesome for post-mitotic neurons, including motoneurons, because they do not proliferate and are quickly diluted in culture by proliferative phenotypes, such as glia. Studies of motoneuron biology and disease, in particular amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, can benefit from high purity motoneuron cultures. In this study, we engineered a transgenic-ES cell line where highly conserved enhancer elements for the motoneuron transcription factor Hb9 were used to drive puromycin N-acetyltransferase expression in ES cell-derived motoneurons. Antibiotic selection with puromycin was then used to obtain high purity motoneuron cultures following differentiation of mouse ES cells. Purity was maintained during maturation allowing the production of consistent, uniform populations of cholinergic ES cell-derived motoneurons. Appropriate functional properties of purified motoneurons were verified by acetylcholinesterase activity and electrophysiology. Antibiotic selection, therefore, can provide an inexpensive alternative to current methods for isolating ES cell-derived motoneurons at high purity that does not require specialized laboratory equipment and provides a unique platform for studies in motoneuron development and degeneration.

published proceedings

  • Biotechnol Bioeng

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • McCreedy, D. A., Brown, C. R., Butts, J. C., Xu, H., Huettner, J. E., & Sakiyama-Elbert, S. E.

citation count

  • 15

complete list of authors

  • McCreedy, Dylan A||Brown, Chelsea R||Butts, Jessica C||Xu, Hao||Huettner, James E||Sakiyama-Elbert, Shelly E

publication date

  • October 2014