Human embryonic stem cells (hESC) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) offer great hope for in vitro modeling of Parkinson's disease (PD), as well as for designing cell-replacement therapies. To realize these opportunities, there is an urgent need to develop efficient protocols for the directed differentiation of hESC/iPSC into dopamine (DA) neurons with the specific characteristics of the cell population lost to PD, i.e., A9-subtype ventral midbrain DA neurons. Here we use lentiviral vectors to drive the expression of LMX1A, which encodes a transcription factor critical for ventral midbrain identity, specifically in neural progenitor cells. We show that clonal lines of hESC engineered to contain one or two copies of this lentiviral vector retain long-term self-renewing ability and pluripotent differentiation capacity. Greater than 60% of all neurons generated from LMX1A-engineered hESC were ventral midbrain DA neurons of the A9 subtype, compared with ∼10% in green fluorescent protein <br>engineered controls, as judged by specific marker expression and functional analyses. Moreover, DA neuron precursors differentiated from LMX1A-engineered hESC were able to survive and differentiate when grafted into the brain of adult mice. Finally, we provide evidence that LMX1A overexpression similarly increases the yield of DA neuron differentiation from human iPSC. Taken together, our data show that stable genetic engineering of hESC/iPSC with lentiviral vectors driving controlled expression of LMX1A is an efficient way to generate enriched populations of human A9-subtype ventral midbrain DA neurons, which should prove useful for modeling PD and may be helpful for designing future cell-replacement strategies
To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.