Direct neuronal reprogramming reveals unknown functions for known transcription factors

Gaia Colasante, Alicia Rubio, Luca Massimino, Vania Broccoli

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In recent years, the need to derive sources of specialized cell types to be employed for cell replacement therapies and modeling studies has triggered a fast acceleration of novel cell reprogramming methods. In particular, in neuroscience, a number of protocols for the efficient differentiation of somatic or pluripotent stem cells have been established to obtain a renewable source of different neuronal cell types. Alternatively, several neuronal populations have been generated through direct reprogramming/trans differentiation, which concerns the conversion of fully differentiated somatic cells into induced neurons. This is achieved through the forced expression of selected transcription factors (TFs) in the donor cell population. The reprogramming cocktail is chosen after an accurate screening process involving lists of TFs enriched into desired cell lineages. In some instances, this type of studies has revealed the crucial role of TFs whose function in the differentiation of a given specific cell type had been neglected or underestimated. Herein, we will speculate on how the in vitro studies have served to better understand physiological mechanisms of neuronal development in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Article number283
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Brain development
  • Cell reprogramming
  • Neuronal differentiation
  • Stem cells
  • Transcription factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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