In the September Stem Cell Research, scientists at Ulm University and Eberhard Karls University in Germany describe a novel in vitro co-culture system to study neuromuscular junctions (NMJs) derived from differentiated human iPSCs. Tobias Boeckers and colleagues developed a novel protocol (see related Aug 2015 news) to generate mature muscle fibers by selection of CD34+ myoblasts. Directed differentiation of these precursors yielded multinucleated, striated myotubes that generated action potentials in response to acetylcholine (ACh). When these muscle fibers were co-cultured with motor neurons that had been derived from the same iPSC line, they first displayed aggregation of ACh receptors in clusters along the muscle fibers, and after 3 weeks, exhibited a characteristic end-plate morphology with expression of pre- and post-synaptic markers in apposition. If further experiments reveal that these NMJs form electrophysiologically active synapses, this could provide a valuable platform for research and drug testing for ALS.
Read the full article here.
Demestre M, Orth M, Föhr KJ, Achberger K, Ludolph AC, Liebau S, Boeckers TM. Formation and characterization of neuromuscular junctions between hiPSC derived motoneurons and myotubes. Stem Cell Res. 2015 Jul 26;15(2):328-336. [Pubmed].