Demonstration of the regulatory powers associated with the factors in this gene regulatory network and neural crest development have recently been applied to the in vitro reprogramming of human fibroblasts into induced neural crest cells, or iNCCs (Figure 1, parts A and B). Primarily through the modulation of Wnt and dosed induction of Sox10, human fibroblasts are able to be reprogrammed into iNCCs, which as multipotent stem cells can then be coaxed into all the neural crest lineages seen in the developing embryo (Kim et al. 2014). This characteristic continues to lend support to the inherent multipotency of neural crest cells. The ability to generate iNCCs offers the opportunity to study neural crest-related human diseases at the developmental level, such as patients with familial dysautonomia, a congenital and degenerative disease affecting the sensory and autonomic nervous system (Figure 1, parts C and D; Kim et al. 2014; comment by Varum and Sommer 2014).
Kim, Y. J. and 7 others. 2014. Generation of multipotent induced neural crest by direct reprogramming of human postnatal fibroblasts with a single transcription factor. Cell Stem Cell 15: 497–506.
Varum, S. and L. Sommer. 2014. Reinventing the neural crest: Direct reprogramming makes iNCCs. Cell Stem Cell 15: 397–399.