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Quantitative changes in gene transcription during induction of differentiation in porcine neural progenitor cells

Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license


Differentiation of neural stem/progenitor cells involves changes in the gene expression of these cells. Less clear is the extent to which incremental changes occur and the time course of such changes, particularly in non-rodents.


Using porcine genome microarrays, we analyzed changes in the expression of 23,256 genes in porcine neural progenitor cells (pNPCs) subject to two established differentiation protocols. In addition, we performed sequential quantitative assessment of a defined transcription profile consisting of 15 progenitor- and lineage-associated genes following exposure to the same treatment protocols, to examine the temporal dynamics of phenotypic changes following induction of differentiation. Immunocytochemistry was also used to examine the expression of seven of these phenotypically important genes at the protein level. Initial primary isolates were passaged four times in proliferation medium containing 20 ng/ml epidermal growth factor (EGF) and 20 ng/ml basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) before differentiation was induced. Differentiation was induced by medium without EGF or bFGF and containing either 10 ng/ml ciliary neurotrophic factor or 10% fetal bovine serum (FBS). Cultures were fed every two days and harvested on days 0, 1, 3, and 5 for quantitative real-time PCR.


The microarray results illustrated and contrasted the global shifts in the porcine transcriptome associated with both treatment conditions. PCR confirmed dramatic upregulation of transcripts for myelin basic protein (up to 88 fold), claudin 11 (up to 32 fold), glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP; up to 26 fold), together with notable (>twofold) increases in message for microtubule associated protein 2 (MAP2) and C-X-C chemokine receptor type 4 (CXCR4), Janus kinase 1 (Jak1), signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 (STAT1), and signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3). Transcripts for nestin and Krüppel-like factor 4 (KLF4) decreased sharply (>twofold). The specific dynamics of expression changes varied according to the transcript and treatment condition over the five days examined following induction. The magnitude of neuronal marker induction was greater for the ciliary neurotrophic factor condition while glial fibrillary acidic protein induction was greater for the FBS condition.


The transient dynamic of CXCR4 expression during induction of differentiation, as well as the upregulation of several major histocompatibility complex (MHC) transcripts, has implications in terms of graft integration and tolerance, respectively. These data confirm and extend in the pig the findings previously reported with murine retinal progenitors and support the use of this large animal model for translational development of regenerative approaches to neurologic diseases.

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