Min-Hui Liu, Yu-Ge Xu, Xiao-Ni Bai, Jian-Hua Lin, Zong-Qin Xiang, Tao Wang, Liang Xu, Wen Li, Gong Chen
In vivo astrocyte-to-neuron (AtN) conversion induced by overexpression of neural transcriptional factors has great potential for neural regeneration and repair. Here, we demonstrate that a single neural transcriptional factor Dlx2 converts mouse striatal astrocytes into neurons in a dose-dependent manner. Lineage-tracing studies in Aldh1l1-CreERT2 mice confirm that Dlx2 can convert striatal astrocytes into DARPP32+ and Ctip2+ medium spiny neurons (MSNs). Time-course studies reveal a gradual conversion from astrocytes to neurons in 1 month, with a distinct intermediate state in-between astrocytes and neurons. Interestingly, when Dlx2-infected astrocytes start to lose astrocytic markers, the other local astrocytes proliferate to maintain astrocytic level in the converted areas. Unexpectedly, while Dlx2 efficiently reprograms astrocytes into neurons in the grey matter striatum, it also induces partial reprogramming of astrocytes in the white matter corpus callosum. Such partial reprogramming of white matter astrocytes is associated with neuroinflammation, which can be essentially suppressed by the addition of NeuroD1. Our results highlight the importance of investigating AtN conversion both in the grey matter and white matter in order to thoroughly evaluate therapeutic potentials. This study also unveils a critical role of anti-inflammation by NeuroD1 during AtN conversion.
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