Investigating Synapse Formation and Function Using Human Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Neurons

PNAS, Kim et al.
Year Published: 

Researchers at the University of California at San Diego established procedures for the induced differentiation of human embryonic stem cells and human induced pluripotent stem cells into forebrain neurons that are capable of forming synaptic connections—communicating messages. The cells containing autism-associated mutations were not able to induce presynaptic differentiation in human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived neurons. Thus, autism-associated mutations hinder the ability of cells to trigger presynaptic differentiation—a crucial part of communication within the brain.