BackgroundMotor neurons (MNs) are distinct types of cells in the dorso-ventral axis of the spinal cord. These cells are developed in the presence of two main morphogens, including Sonic hedgehog (Shh) and retinoic acid (RA). On the other hand, human bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (hBM-MSCs) are known as a multipotent type of cells with neural differentiation capacity. In this regard, the aim of this study was to quantitatively evaluate the expression of MN-related genes and the potent epigenetic regulatory genes involved in neurogenesis, including Enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH-2) and P300, during hBM-MSC differentiation into MN-like cells, using RA and Shh. After isolating and inducing the cells with Shh and RA, the results were evaluated using immunocytochemistry and qRT-PCR.ResultsOur findings showed that the treated cells could express choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) and insulin gene enhancer binding protein-1 (Islet-1) antigens at the protein level, 2 weeks after induction. Moreover, at the second week after induction, the induced cells expressed MN-related genes (ChAT and ISLET-1) and epigenetic regulatory genes (EZH-2 and P300) at significant levels compared to the control (non-treated BM-MSCs) and to the induced cells at the first week (day 7). In addition, the expression of EZH-2, as a histone-modifying gene, was also significantly upregulated at the first week compared to the control. No significant upregulation was detected in the expression of motor neuron and pancreas homeobox 1 (MNX-1) in the treated groups compared to the control group.ConclusionWe concluded that epigenetic modifiers, P300 and EZH-2, are important mediators for regulating the process of motor neuron differentiation induced by RA and Shh.