Rapid differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells into functional neurons by mRNAs encoding transcription factors

Sci Rep. 2017 Feb 13:7:42367. doi: 10.1038/srep42367.


Efficient differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) into neurons is paramount for disease modeling, drug screening, and cell transplantation therapy in regenerative medicine. In this manuscript, we report the capability of five transcription factors (TFs) toward this aim: NEUROG1, NEUROG2, NEUROG3, NEUROD1, and NEUROD2. In contrast to previous methods that have shortcomings in their speed and efficiency, a cocktail of these TFs as synthetic mRNAs can differentiate hPSCs into neurons in 7 days, judged by calcium imaging and electrophysiology. They exhibit motor neuron phenotypes based on immunostaining. These results indicate the establishment of a novel method for rapid, efficient, and footprint-free differentiation of functional neurons from hPSCs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics*
  • Cell Shape
  • Humans
  • Ion Channels / metabolism
  • Kinetics
  • Motor Neurons / cytology*
  • Motor Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurogenesis / genetics
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • Ion Channels
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Transcription Factors