The clinical applicability of direct cell fate conversion depends on obtaining tissue from patients that is easy to harvest, store, and manipulate for reprogramming. Here, we generate induced neural progenitor cells (iNPCs) from neonatal and adult peripheral blood using single-factor OCT4 reprogramming. Unlike fibroblasts that share molecular hallmarks of neural crest, OCT4 reprogramming of blood was facilitated by SMAD+GSK-3 inhibition to overcome restrictions on neural fate conversion. Blood-derived (BD) iNPCs differentiate in vivo and respond to guided differentiation in vitro, producing glia (astrocytes and oligodendrocytes) and multiple neuronal subtypes, including dopaminergic (CNS related) and nociceptive neurons (peripheral nervous system [PNS]). Furthermore, nociceptive neurons phenocopy chemotherapy-induced neurotoxicity in a system suitable for high-throughput drug screening. Our findings provide an easily accessible approach for generating human NPCs that harbor extensive developmental potential, enabling the study of clinically relevant neural diseases directly from patient cohorts. Using OCT-4-induced direct reprogramming, Lee et al. convert human blood to neural progenitors with both CNS and PNS developmental capacity. This fate alternation is distinct from fibroblasts that are primed for neural potential. Furthermore, human sensory neurons derived from blood phenocopy chemo-induced neuropathy in formats suitable for drug screening.
Lee, J. H., Mitchell, R. R., McNicol, J. D., Shapovalova, Z., Laronde, S., Tanasijevic, B., … Bhatia, M. (2015). Single Transcription Factor Conversion of Human Blood Fate to NPCs with CNS and PNS Developmental Capacity. Cell Reports, 11(9), 1367–1376. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2015.04.056