Neural crest cells are specified at the border between the neural plate and the epiderm. They are capable of differentiating into various somatic cell types, including craniofacial and peripheral nerve tissues. Notch signaling plays important roles during neurogenesis; however, its function during human neural crest development is poorly understood. Here, we generated self-renewing premigratory neural-crest-like cells (pNCCs) from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) and investigated the roles of Notch signaling during neural crest differentiation. pNCCs expressed various neural-crest-specifier genes, including SLUG (also known as SNAI2), SOX10 and TWIST1, and were able to differentiate into most neural crest derivatives. Blocking Notch signaling during the pNCC differentiation suppressed the expression of neural-crest-specifier genes. By contrast, ectopic expression of activated Notch1 intracellular domain (NICD1) augmented the expression of neural-crest-specifier genes, and NICD1 was found to bind to their promoter regions. Notch activity was also required for the maintenance of the premigratory neural crest state, and the suppression of Notch signaling led to the generation of neural-crest-derived neurons. Taken together, we provide a protocol for the generation of pNCCs and show that Notch signaling regulates the formation, migration and differentiation of neural crest from hPSCs.
- Human embryonic stem cells
- Human induced pluripotent stem cells
- Neural crest
- Notch signaling