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Neural Stem Cells Achieve and Maintain Pluripotency without Feeder Cells

Public Library of Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0021367
  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Stem Cells
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells
  • Neural Stem Cells
  • Model Organisms
  • Animal Models
  • Mouse
  • Molecular Cell Biology
  • Cellular Types
  • Neuroscience
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Computer Science
  • Medicine


Background Differentiated cells can be reprogrammed into pluripotency by transduction of four defined transcription factors. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) are expected to be useful for regenerative medicine as well as basic research. Recently, the report showed that mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEF) cells are not essential for reprogramming. However, in using fibroblasts as donor cells for reprogramming, individual fibroblasts that had failed to reprogram could function as feeder cells. Methodology/Principal Finding Here, we show that adult mouse neural stem cells (NSCs), which are not functional feeder cells, can be reprogrammed into iPS cells using defined four factors (Oct4, Sox2, Klf4, and c-Myc) under feeder-free conditions. The iPS cells, generated from NSCs expressing the Oct4-GFP reporter gene, could proliferate for more than two months (passage 20). Generated and maintained without feeder cells, these iPS cells expressed pluripotency markers (Oct4 and Nanog), the promoter regions of Oct4 and Nanog were hypomethylated, could differentiated into to all three germ layers in vitro, and formed a germline chimera. These data indicate that NSCs can achieve and maintain pluripotency under feeder-free conditions. Conclusion/Significance This study suggested that factors secreted by feeder cells are not essential in the initial/early stages of reprogramming and for pluripotency maintenance. This technology might be useful for a human system, as a feeder-free reprogramming system may help generate iPS cells of a clinical grade for tissue or organ regeneration.

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