We describe the step-by-step procedure for culturing and differentiating mouse embryonic stem cells into neuronal lineages, followed by a series of assays to characterize the differentiated cells. The E14 mouse embryonic stem cells were used to form embryoid bodies through the hanging drop method, and then induced to differentiate into neural progenitor cells by retinoic acid, and finally differentiated into neurons. Quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) and immunofluorescence experiments revealed that the neural progenitors and neurons exhibit corresponding markers (nestin for neural progenitors and neurofilament for neurons) at day 8 and 12 postdifferentiation, respectively. Flow cytometry experiments on an E14 line expressing a Sox1 promoter-driven GFP reporter showed that about 60% of cells at day 8 are GFP positive, indicating the successful differentiation of neural progenitor cells at this stage. Finally, RNA-seq analysis was used to profile the global transcriptomic changes. These methods are useful for analyzing the involvement of specific genes and pathways in regulating the cell identity transition during neuronal differentiation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Chemical Engineering(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)