Axon guidance is required for the establishment of brain circuits. Whether much of the molecular basis of axon guidance is known from animal models, the molecular machinery coordinating axon growth and pathfinding in humans remains to be elucidated. The use of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) from human donors has revolutionized in vitro studies of the human brain. iPSC can be differentiated into neuronal stem cells which can be used to generate neural tissue-like cultures, known as neurospheres, that reproduce, in many aspects, the cell types and molecules present in the brain. Here, we analyzed quantitative changes in the proteome of neurospheres during differentiation. Relative quantification was performed at early time points during differentiation using iTRAQ-based labeling and LC-MS/MS analysis. We identified 6,438 proteins, from which 433 were downregulated and 479 were upregulated during differentiation. We show that human neurospheres have a molecular profile that correlates to the fetal brain. During differentiation, upregulated pathways are related to neuronal development and differentiation, cell adhesion, and axonal guidance whereas cell proliferation pathways were downregulated. We developed a functional assay to check for neurite outgrowth in neurospheres and confirmed that neurite outgrowth potential is increased after 10 days of differentiation and is enhanced by increasing cyclic AMP levels. The proteins identified here represent a resource to monitor neurosphere differentiation and coupled to the neurite outgrowth assay can be used to functionally explore neurological disorders using human neurospheres as a model.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience