Professor Wichterle's lab utilizes in vitro differentiation of embryonic stem cells as a tool to study development of the mammalian nervous system. They have developed robust protocols for the directed differentiation of ES cells into distinct subsets of skeletal and autonomic motor neurons. ES cell-derived motor neurons acquire appropriate electrophysiological properties and innervate muscle targets upon transplantation into the developing neural tube. Currently, Wichterle is comparing distinct subtypes of ES-derived motor neurons, with the goal of identifying mechanisms that regulate motor neuron survival, axonal pathfinding and establishment of functional synapses. The lab is developing ES cell- based models of motor neuron diseases to study pathological mechanisms and to develop a cell-based system for drug discovery.
Dimos JT, Rodolfa KT, Niakan KK, Weisenthal LM, Mitsumoto H, Chung W, Croft GF, Saphier G, Leibel R, Goland R, Wichterle H, Henderson CE, Eggan K. Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Generated from Patients with ALS Can Be Differentiated into Motor Neurons. Science. 2008 Jul 31. [Epub ahead of print]
Nagai M, Re DB, Nagata T, Chalazonitis A, Jessell TM, Wichterle H, Przedborski S. Astrocytes expressing ALS-linked mutated SOD1 release factors selectively toxic to motor neurons. Nat Neurosci. 2007 May;10(5):615-22. Epub 2007 Apr 15.
Wichterle H, Lieberam I, Porter JA, Jessell TM. Directed differentiation of embryonic stem cells into motor neurons.
Cell. 2002 Aug 9;110(3):385-97.