Scalable Production of iPSC-Derived Human Neurons to Identify Tau-Lowering Compounds by High-Content Screening

Chao Wang, Michael E. Ward, Robert Chen, Kai Liu, Tara E. Tracy, Xu Chen, Min Xie, Peter Dongmin Sohn, Connor Ludwig, Anke Meyer-Franke, Celeste M. Karch, Sheng Ding, Li Gan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

172 Scopus citations


Lowering total tau levels is an attractive therapeutic strategy for Alzheimer's disease and other tauopathies. High-throughput screening in neurons derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) is a powerful tool to identify tau-targeted therapeutics. However, such screens have been hampered by heterogeneous neuronal production, high cost and low yield, and multi-step differentiation procedures. We engineered an isogenic iPSC line that harbors an inducible neurogenin 2 transgene, a transcription factor that rapidly converts iPSCs to neurons, integrated at the AAVS1 locus. Using a simplified two-step protocol, we differentiated these iPSCs into cortical glutamatergic neurons with minimal well-to-well variability. We developed a robust high-content screening assay to identify tau-lowering compounds in LOPAC and identified adrenergic receptors agonists as a class of compounds that reduce endogenous human tau. These techniques enable the use of human neurons for high-throughput screening of drugs to treat neurodegenerative disease. Gan and colleagues developed a simple and scalable technology to generate a large quantity of homogeneous glutamatergic cortical neurons by engineering a neurogenin 2-expressing cassette to the AAVS1 locus of iPSCs. They developed a high-content screening assay and identified adrenergic receptor agonists as a class of compounds that lower endogenous human tau, a key pathogenic factor in Alzheimer's disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1221-1233
Number of pages13
JournalStem Cell Reports
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 10 2017


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Tau-lowering
  • adrenergic receptor
  • frontotemporal dementia
  • high-content screening
  • human induced pluripotent stem cells
  • human neurons
  • neurodegeneration
  • neurogenin 2
  • tau


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