Past Issue

Volume 19, Number 4, Jan-Mar(Winter) 2018, Serial Number: 76 Pages: 545-551

In Vitro Differentiation of Neural-Like Cells from Human Embryonic Stem Cells by A Combination of Dorsomorphin, XAV939, and A8301

Zahra Valizadeh-Arshad, M.Sc, 1, 2, Ebrahim Shahbazi, M.Sc, 1, Shiva Hashemizadeh, M.Sc, 1, Azadeh Moradmand, M.Sc, 1, Meyssam Jangkhah, M.Sc, 3, Sahar Kiani, Ph.D, 1, *,
Department of Stem Cells and Developmental Biology, Cell Science Research Center, Royan Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Technology, ACECR, Tehran, Iran
Department of Developmental Biology, University of Science and Culture, ACECR, Tehran, Iran
Department of Embryology, Reproductive Biomedicine Research Center, Royan Institute for Reproductive Biomedicine, ACECR, Tehran, Iran
*Corresponding Address: P.O. BOX: 16635-148 Department of Stem Cells and Developmental Biology Cell Science Research Center Royan Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Technology ACECR Tehran Iran



Motor neuron differentiation from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) is a goal of regenerative medicine to provide cell therapy as treatments for diseases that damage motor neurons. Most protocols lack adequate efficiency in generating functional motor neurons. However, small molecules present a new approach to overcome this challenge. The aim of this research is to replace morphogen factors with a cocktail of efficient, affordable small molecules for effective, low cost motor neuron differentiation.

Materials and Methods

In this experimental study, hESCs were differentiated into motor neuron by the application of a small molecule cocktail that consisted of dorsomorphin, A8301, and XAV939. During the differentiation protocol, we selected five stages and assessed expressions of neural markers by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR), immunofluorescence staining, and flow cytometry. Motor neuron ion currents were determined by whole cell patch clamp recording.


Immunofluorescence staining and flow cytometry analysis of hESC-derived neural ectoderm (NE) indicated that they were positive for NESTIN (92.68%), PAX6 (64.40%), and SOX1 (82.11%) in a chemically defined adherent culture. The replated (hESC)-derived NE differentiated cells were positive for TUJ1, MAP2, HB9 and ISL1. We evaluated the gene expression levels with real-time reverse transcriptase-PCR at different stages of the differentiation protocol. Voltage gated channel currents of differentiated cells were examined by the whole-cell patch clamp technique. The hESC-derived motor neurons showed voltage gated delay rectifier K+, Na+ and Ca2+ inward currents.


Our results indicated that hESC-derived neurons expressed the specific motor neuron markers specially HB9 and ISL1 but voltage clamp recording showed small ionic currents therefore it seems that voltage gated channel population were inadequate for firing action potentials.