Functional deficiencies in fragile X neurons derived from human embryonic stem cells

Michael Telias, Liron Kuznitsov-Yanovsky, Menahem Sega, Dalit Ben-Yosef*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


FragileXsyndrome (FXS), the mostcommonform of inherited mental retardation, is a neurodevelopmental disorder caused by silencing of the FMR1 gene, which in FXS becomes inactivated during human embryonic development.Wehave shown recently that this process is recapitulated by in vitro neural differentiation of FX human embryonic stem cells (FX-hESCs), derived from FXS blastocysts. In the present study, we analyzed morphological and functional properties of neurons generated from FX-hESCs. Human FX neurons can fire single action potentials (APs) to depolarizing current commands, but are unable to discharge trains of APs. Their APs are of a reduced amplitudes and longer durations than controls. These are reflected in reduced inward Na+ and outward K+ currents. In addition, human FX neurons contain fewer synaptic vesicles and lack spontaneous synaptic activity. Notably, synaptic activity in these neurons can be restored by coculturing them with normal rat hippocampal neurons, demonstrating a critical role for synaptic mechanisms in FXS pathology. This is the first extensive functional analysis of human FX neurons derived in vitro from hESCs that provides a convenient tool for studying molecular mechanisms underlying the impaired neuronal functions in FXS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15295-15306
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number46
StatePublished - 18 Nov 2015


  • Action potential
  • Disease modeling
  • Fragile X syndrome
  • Human embryonic stem cells
  • In vitro neural differentiation
  • Synaptic Deficiencies


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