Genetic strategies to investigate neuronal circuit properties using stem cell-derived neurons

Front Cell Neurosci. 2012 Dec 18;6:59. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2012.00059. eCollection 2012.


The mammalian brain is anatomically and functionally complex, and prone to diverse forms of injury and neuropathology. Scientists have long strived to develop cell replacement therapies to repair damaged and diseased nervous tissue. However, this goal has remained unrealized for various reasons, including nascent knowledge of neuronal development, the inability to track and manipulate transplanted cells within complex neuronal networks, and host graft rejection. Recent advances in embryonic stem cell (ESC) and induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology, alongside novel genetic strategies to mark and manipulate stem cell-derived neurons, now provide unprecedented opportunities to investigate complex neuronal circuits in both healthy and diseased brains. Here, we review current technologies aimed at generating and manipulating neurons derived from ESCs and iPSCs toward investigation and manipulation of complex neuronal circuits, ultimately leading to the design and development of novel cell-based therapeutic approaches.

Keywords: circuit; neuron; optogenetic; reprogramming; stem cell; synapse; transsynaptic.