Huntington’s disease (HD) is characterized by hypomyelination and neuronal loss. To assess the basis for myelin loss in HD, we generated bipotential glial progenitor cells (GPCs) from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) derived from mutant Huntingtin (mHTT) embryos or normal controls and performed RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) to assess mHTT-dependent changes in gene expression. In human GPCs (hGPCs) derived from 3 mHTT hESC lines, transcription factors associated with glial differentiation and myelin synthesis were sharply downregulated relative to normal hESC GPCs; NKX2.2, OLIG2, SOX10, MYRF, and their downstream targets were all suppressed. Accordingly, when mHTT hGPCs were transplanted into hypomyelinated shiverer mice, the resultant glial chimeras were hypomyelinated; this defect could be rescued by forced expression of SOX10 and MYRF by mHTT hGPCs. The mHTT hGPCs also manifested impaired astrocytic differentiation and developed abnormal fiber architecture. White matter involution in HD is thus a product of the cell-autonomous, mHTT-dependent suppression of glial differentiation.
Human ESC-Derived Chimeric Mouse Models of Huntington’s Disease Reveal Cell-Intrinsic Defects in Glial Progenitor Cell Differentiation
Osipovitch M, Asenjo Martinez A, Mariani JN, Cornwell A, Dhaliwal S, Zou L, Chandler-Militello D, Wang S, Li X, Benraiss SJ, Agate R, Lampp A, Benraiss A, Windrem MS, Goldman SA. (2019) Human ESC-Derived Chimeric Mouse Models of Huntington’s Disease Reveal Cell-Intrinsic Defects in Glial Progenitor Cell Differentiation. Cell Stem Cell 24(1):107-122. [abstract]