Gene expression profile of the differentiation of bone marrow stromal stem cells into neuron-like cells before and after induction*,⋆

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Accumulating evidences demonstrate that bone marrow stromal stem cells (BMSCs) can in vitro differentiate into neuron-like cells, which may be good candidates transplanted for some neurodegenerative diseases. However, the involved molecular mechanism remains unclear.


To detect the valuable changes of the gene expression profile in the induced differentiation of BMSCs into neuron-like cells.


This observational experiment was performed at the Brain Lab in the Second Affiliated Hospital of Soochow University from December 2006 to December 2007.


Inbred Wistar rats weighing 300 g approximately were used in this study.


In vitro cultured and purified rat BMSCs were induced to differentiate into neuron-like cells with basic fibroblast growth factor and epidermal growth factor. Before and 7 days after induction, RNA was extracted respectively. Affymetrix microarrays were applied to identify the differential gene expression profile. Subsequently, some key genes were selected and checked by real-time PCR.


The following parameters were measured: Culture and induced differentiation of BMSCs; identification of neuron-like cells after the induction; detection of microarrays before and after induction; analysis of the microarray results; validation by real-time PCR


Morphologically, BMSCs were successfully induced to become neuron-like cells, (69.04±5.63)% of which were positive for β-TubulinIII. The microarrays detected 215 genes were different expressed (125 up-regulated and 90 down-regulated). In this group, 13 genes in the literature reported to be closely associated with neural development were specially noticed, among which 7 were up-regulated and 6 were down-regulated. Real-time PCR showed that the expression patterns of four selected key genes (Bmp4, Robo2, Numb and Enc1) were in accordance with those disclosed by the microarray.


In the induced differentiation procedure of BMSCs into neuron-like cells, some important genes related to neural differentiation were expressed differentially. Further study on these interesting genes may establish molecular foundation for genetically engineering of BMSCs.

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