Generation of functional human oligodendrocytes from dermal fibroblasts by direct lineage conversion

Development. 2022 Oct 15;149(20):dev199723. doi: 10.1242/dev.199723. Epub 2022 Jun 24.


Oligodendrocytes, the myelinating cells of the central nervous system, possess great potential for disease modeling and cell transplantation-based therapies for leukodystrophies. However, caveats to oligodendrocyte differentiation protocols ( Ehrlich et al., 2017; Wang et al., 2013; Douvaras and Fossati, 2015) from human embryonic stem and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), which include slow and inefficient differentiation, and tumorigenic potential of contaminating undifferentiated pluripotent cells, are major bottlenecks towards their translational utility. Here, we report the rapid generation of human oligodendrocytes by direct lineage conversion of human dermal fibroblasts (HDFs). We show that the combination of the four transcription factors OLIG2, SOX10, ASCL1 and NKX2.2 is sufficient to convert HDFs to induced oligodendrocyte precursor cells (iOPCs). iOPCs resemble human primary and iPSC-derived OPCs based on morphology and transcriptomic analysis. Importantly, iOPCs can differentiate into mature myelinating oligodendrocytes in vitro and in vivo. Finally, iOPCs derived from patients with Pelizaeus Merzbacher disease, a hypomyelinating leukodystrophy caused by mutations in the proteolipid protein 1 (PLP1) gene, showed increased cell death compared with iOPCs from healthy donors. Thus, human iOPCs generated by direct lineage conversion represent an attractive new source for human cell-based disease models and potentially myelinating cell grafts.

Keywords: Direct lineage conversion; Fibroblasts; Human; Leukodystrophy; Myelination; Oligodendrocyte.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Fibroblasts
  • Humans
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells* / metabolism
  • Oligodendroglia / metabolism
  • Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease* / genetics
  • Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease* / metabolism
  • Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease* / therapy