Directed differentiation of human pluripotent cells to neural crest stem cells

Nat Protoc. 2013 Jan;8(1):203-12. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2012.156. Epub 2013 Jan 3.


Multipotent neural crest stem cells (NCSCs) have the potential to generate a wide range of cell types including melanocytes; peripheral neurons; and smooth muscle, bone, cartilage and fat cells. This protocol describes in detail how to perform a highly efficient, lineage-specific differentiation of human pluripotent cells to a NCSC fate. The approach uses chemically defined media under feeder-free conditions, and it uses two small-molecule compounds to achieve efficient conversion of human pluripotent cells to NCSCs in ~15 d. After completion of this protocol, NCSCs can be used for numerous applications, including the generation of sufficient cell numbers to perform drug screens, for the development of cell therapeutics on an industrial scale and to provide a robust model for human disease. This protocol can be also be applied to patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells and thus used to further the knowledge of human disease associated with neural crest development, for example, Treacher-Collins Syndrome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Culture Techniques*
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / cytology
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Neural Crest / cytology*
  • Neural Crest / pathology
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Zebrafish / embryology