Phenotypic Reprogramming of Striatal Neurons into Dopaminergic Neuron-like Cells in the Adult Mouse Brain

Wenze Niu, Tong Zang, Lei Lei Wang, Yuhua Zou, Chun-Li Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Neuronal subtype is largely fixed in the adult mammalian brain. Here, however, we unexpectedly reveal that adult mouse striatal neurons can be reprogrammed into dopaminergic neuron-like cells (iDALs). This in vivo phenotypic reprogramming can be promoted by a stem cell factor (SOX2), three dopaminergic neuron-enriched transcription regulators (NURR1, LMX1A, and FOXA2), and a chemical compound (valproic acid). Although the site of action of the reprogramming factors remains to be determined, immunohistochemistry and genetic lineage mappings confirm striatal neurons as the cell origin for iDALs. iDALs exhibit electrophysiological properties stereotypical to endogenous dopaminergic rather than striatal neurons. Together, these results indicate that neuronal phenotype can be reengineered even in the adult brain, implicating a therapeutic strategy for neurological diseases. In this article, Zhang and colleagues unexpectedly uncover that adult mouse striatal neurons can be in vivo reprogrammed into induced dopaminergic neuron-like cells (iDALs). iDALs exhibit gene expression and electrophysiological properties of dopaminergic neurons. Such phenotypic reprogramming of resident neurons may be exploited for treating neurological diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1156-1170
Number of pages15
JournalStem Cell Reports
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 13 2018


  • FOXA2
  • LMX1A
  • NURR1
  • Parkinson disease
  • SOX2
  • direct reprogramming
  • dopaminergic neurons
  • in vivo reprogramming
  • induced neurons
  • striatum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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