Generation of human-induced pluripotent stem cells to model spinocerebellar ataxia type 2 in vitro

Guangbin Xia, Katherine Santostefano, Takashi Hamazaki, Jilin Liu, S. H. Subramony, Naohiro Terada, Tetsuo Ashizawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Spinocerebellar ataxia type 2 (SCA2) is caused by triple nucleotide repeat (CAG) expansion in the coding region of the ATAXN2 gene on chromosome 12, which produces an elongated, toxic polyglutamine tract, leading to Purkinje cell loss. There is currently no effective therapy. One of the main obstacles that hampers therapeutic development is lack of an ideal disease model. In this study, we have generated and characterized SCA2-induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell lines as an in vitro cell model. Dermal fibroblasts (FBs) were harvested from primary cultures of skin explants obtained from a SCA2 subject and a healthy subject. For reprogramming, hOct4, hSox2, hKlf4, and hc-Myc were transduced to passage-3 FBs by retroviral infection. Both SCA2 iPS and control iPS cells were successfully generated and showed typical stem cell growth patterns with normal karyotype. All iPS cell lines expressed stem cell markers and differentiated in vitro into cells from three embryonic germ layers. Upon in vitro neural differentiation, SCA2 iPS cells showed abnormality in neural rosette formation but successfully differentiated into neural stem cells (NSCs) and subsequent neural cells. SCA2 and normal FBs showed a comparable level of ataxin-2 expression; whereas SCA2 NSCs showed less ataxin-2 expression than normal NSCs and SCA2 FBs. Within the neural lineage, neurons had the most abundant expression of ataxin-2. Time-lapsed neural growth assay indicated terminally differentiated SCA2 neural cells were short-lived compared with control neural cells. The expanded CAG repeats of SCA2 were stable throughout reprogramming and neural differentiation. In conclusion, we have established the first disease-specific human SCA2 iPS cell line. These mutant iPS cells have the potential for neural differentiation. These differentiated neural cells harboring mutations are invaluable for the study of SCA2 pathogenesis and therapeutic drug development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-248
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Molecular Neuroscience
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2013


  • Ataxin
  • Induced pluripotent stem cells
  • Polyglutamine
  • Spinocerebellar ataxia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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