Role of estrogen receptor beta in neural differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells

Mukesh K. Varshney, José Inzunza, Diana Lupu, Vaidheeswaran Ganapathy, Per Antonson, Joëlle Rüegg, Ivan Nalvarte, Jan Åke Gustafsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The ability to propagate mature cells and tissue from pluripotent stem cells offers enormous promise for treating many diseases, including neurodegenerative diseases. Before such cells can be used successfully in neurodegenerative diseases without causing unwanted cell growth and migration, genes regulating growth and migration of neural stem cells need to be well characterized. Estrogen receptor beta (ERβ) is essential for migration of neurons and glial cells in the developing mouse brain. To examine whether ERβ influences differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells (mESC) into neural lineages, we compared control and ERβ knockout (BERKO) mESCs at defined stages of neural development and examined the effects of an ERβ-selective ligand (LY3201) with a combination of global and targeted gene-expression profiling and the expression of key pluripotency markers. We found that ERβ was induced in embryoid bodies (EBs) and neural precursor cells (NPCs) during development. Proliferation was higher in BERKO NPCs and was inhibited by LY3201. Neurogenesis was reduced in BERKO ES cells, and oligodendrogliogenesis was enhanced. BERKO EBs expressed higher levels of key ectodermal and neural progenitor markers and lower levels of markers for mesoderm and endoderm lineages. ERβ-regulated factors are involved in cell adhesion, axon guidance, and signaling of Notch and GABA receptor pathways, as well as factors important for the differentiation of neuronal precursors into dopaminergic neurons (Engrailed 1) and for the oligodendrocyte fate acquisition (Olig2). Our data suggest that ERβ is an important component for differentiation into midbrain neurons as well as for preventing precocious oligodendrogliogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E10428-E10437
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number48
StatePublished - Nov 28 2017


  • Dopamine
  • Estrogen receptor beta
  • Midbrain
  • Oligodendrocyte
  • Stem cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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