Recent advances in trans-differentiation of one type cell to another have made it possible to directly convert Huntington's disease (HD) patient fibroblasts into neurons by modulation of cell-lineage-specific transcription factors or RNA processing. However, this possibility has not been examined. Here, we demonstrate that HD patient-derived fibroblasts can be directly trans-differentiated into neuron-like cells by knockdown of the expression of a single gene encoding the polypyrimidine-tract-binding protein. The directly converted HD neuron-like cells were positive in expression of Tuj1, NeuN, DARPP-32, and c-aminobutyric acid and exhibited neuritic breakdown, abnormal neuritic branching, increased cell death, and aggregation of mutant huntingtin. These observations indicate that the neuron-like cells directly converted from HD patient fibroblasts recapitulate the major aspects of neuropathological characteristics of HD and thus provide an additional model for understanding the disorder and validation of therapeutic reagents.
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