Pluripotency and the capacity for continuous self-renewal make embryonic stem (ES) cells an attractive donor source for cell-replacement strategies. A key prerequisite for a therapeutic application of ES cells is the generation of defined somatic cell populations. Here we demonstrate that a targeted insertion of the EGFP gene into the tau locus permits efficient fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS)-based lineage selection of ES cell-derived neurons. After in vitro differentiation of heterozygous tau EGFP ES cells into multipotent neural precursors, EGFP is selectively induced in postmitotic neurons of various neurotransmitter phenotypes. By using FACS, ES cell-derived neurons can be enriched to purities of more than 90%. Because neuron-specific EGFP fluorescence is also observed upon transplantation of ES cell-derived neural precursors, the tau EGFP mutant represents a useful tool for the in vivo analysis of grafted ES cell-derived neurons.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.