A combination of small molecules directly reprograms mouse fibroblasts into neural stem cells

Jie Zheng, Kyung Ah Choi, Phil Jun Kang, Solji Hyeon, Suhyun Kwon, Jai Hee Moon, Insik Hwang, Yang In Kim, Yoon Sik Kim, Byung Sun Yoon, Gyuman Park, Jangbo Lee, Sunghoi Hong, Seungkwon You

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


The generation of induced neural stem cells (iNSCs) from somatic cells using defined factors provides new avenues for basic research and cell therapies for various neurological diseases, such as Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, and spinal cord injuries. However, the transcription factors used for direct reprogramming have the potential to cause unexpected genetic modifications, which limits their potential application in cell therapies. Here, we show that a combination of four chemical compounds resulted in cells directly acquiring a NSC identity; we termed these cells chemically-induced NSCs (ciNSCs). ciNSCs expressed NSC markers (Pax6, PLZF, Nestin, Sox2, and Sox1) and resembled NSCs in terms of their morphology, self-renewal, gene expression profile, and electrophysiological function when differentiated into the neuronal lineage. Moreover, ciNSCs could differentiate into several types of mature neurons (dopaminergic, GABAergic, and cholinergic) as well as astrocytes and oligodendrocytes in vitro. Taken together, our results suggest that stably expandable and functional ciNSCs can be directly reprogrammed from mouse fibroblasts using a combination of small molecules without any genetic manipulation, and will provide a new source of cells for cellular replacement therapy of neurodegenerative diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-48
Number of pages7
JournalBiochemical and biophysical research communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jul 15

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Bio & Medical Technology Development Program of the National Research Foundation of Korea funded by the Korean Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning (MSIP) NRF-2010-0020347 , NRF-2014M3A9D3034158 and NRF-2012M3A9C6050131 , a grant of the Korea Health Technology R&D Project , Ministry of Health & Welfare Grant A120392 , A12039212010000300 and School of Life Sciences and Biotechnology for BK21 PLUS, Korea University.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Published by Elsevier Inc.


  • Lineage conversion
  • Neural stem cell
  • Reprogramming
  • Small molecules

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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