(232d) Exploring the Myelinogenic Potential of Human Keratinocytes Derived Neural Crest Cells: Implications for Demyelinating Diseases

Authors: 
Bajpai, V. K., University at Buffalo
Wang, X., University at Buffalo
Andreadis, S. T., University at Buffalo

Introduction: During embryonic development, neural crest stem cells (NCSC)
migrate laterally along the length of developing notochord and give rise to
diverse cell types (e.g. peripheral neurons, Schwann cells, melanocytes and
skeletal and connective tissue). In this work, we have shown, for the first
time, that human epidermal stem cells (also called keratinocytes (KC)) derived
from neonatal and adult skin can be coaxed to acquire functional NCSC fate
under defined culture conditions without any transgene overexpression. We
further demonstrated using an in-vivo chicken embryo model that human KC
derived neural crest cells (KC-NCSC) can migrate and differentiate into
functional neural crest derivatives in the developing embryo. Finally, we
differentiated KC-NCSC towards myelin producing Schwann cells, which were
successfully implanted in the mouse model of dysmyelination
to examine their potential to myelinate neurons.

 Materials
& Methods:
Human neonatal foreskin KC and adult skin KC were isolated
and KRT14+  KC were
induced to undergo neural crest fate conversion under an NC induction medium (NCIM)
treatment for 8-12 days. KC derived neural crest stem cells (KC-NCSC) were
analysed transcriptionally (through global RNA sequencing (RNASeq)
and qRT-PCR) as well as translationally (through flow
cytometry, immunocytochemistry, and immunoblotting). To demonstrate that KC
possess the ability to undergo NC transformation at single cell level, clonal
cultures of KC were established and induced to acquire NC fate. For chicken
embryo experiments, we implanted KC-NCSC into cranial portion of 10-13 somite
stage chicken embryos and examined embryos 2 and 4 days afterwards. To coax
KC-NCSC to undergo Schwann cell differentiation, KC-NCSC were cultured in
differentiation media containing FGF2, CNTF, GDNF, and NRG1 for 15-20 days.
Further, we injected KC-NCSC derived Schwann cells into a Shiverer/Rag2
(-/-) mouse model after modifying them with lentivirus carrying mCherry reporter to allow us monitor mCherry+
cells after explantation. Mice were sacrificed at day
7 day and day 30 intervals and were studied for myelination using
immunohistochemistry.

 Results and Discussion: After isolation, KC grew as typical epithelial colonies and after
8-12 days of induction treatment small spindle shaped cells appeared to be
delaminating from tighter KC colonies (Fig1A). These were termed as KC-NCSC as
they were uniformly positive for NC genes i.e. SOX10, FOXD3, PAX3, KIT, NGFR, NES
and lacked KRT14/KRT5 (KC markers) as evidenced by transcriptional and translational
analyses (Fig1B, C and D). KC-NCSC induction upregulated key epithelial to
mesenchymal transition (EMT) genes like SNAI1, SNAI2, TWIST, FOXC2, VIM, CDH2
and downregulated CDH1. Illumina based RNA sequencing
analysis showed that in contrast to KC, KC-NCSC possess global transcriptional
profile similar to native NC as demonstrated by ROC analysis and 3D MDS plot (Fig1E).
Clones of KC-NCSC expressed characteristic NC genes confirming clonal NC
potential of KC. Under appropriate differentiation conditions, KC-NCSC
differentiated and matured along functional neuronal, Schwann cell, melanocyte
and mesenchymal linages as confirmed by mRNA and protein analysis as well as
functional tests for each lineage. Upon implantation in chicken embryos, KC-NCSC
migrated extensively and differentiated into multiple NC derivatives including
neurons, glia, myocytes and melanocytes as confirmed by immunohistochemistry
(results summary in Table1G). KC-NCSC efficiently differentiated into Schwann
cell phenotype as confirmed by immunocytochemistry for key schwann cell genes like MPZ (P0), Myelin basic
protein (MBP) and PLP as well as upregualtion of
these genes at the transcriptional level (Fig1F).

Conclusions: In summary, this work establishes KC as novel source of bonafide NCSC and KC-NCSC derived Schwann cells, which were
successfully transplanted into murine dysmyelinating
disease model for studying their myelinogenic
potential. This study has significant implications for the use of cellular
therapies for treatment of devastating demyelinating diseases like multiple
sclerosis.