Research Article

Direct Conversion of C. elegans Germ Cells into Specific Neuron Types

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Science  09 Dec 2010:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1199082


The ability of transcription factors to directly reprogram the identity of cell types is usually restricted and is defined by cellular context. We show here that through ectopic expression of single C. elegans transcription factors, the identity of mitotic germ cells can be directly converted into that of specific neuron types (glutamatergic, cholinergic or GABAergic). This reprogramming event requires the removal of the histone chaperone LIN-53/RbAp48, a component of several histone remodeling and modifying complexes, and this removal can be mimicked by chemical inhibition of histone deacetylases. Our findings illustrate the ability of germ cells to be directly converted into individual, terminally differentiated neuron types and demonstrate that a specific chromatin factor provides a barrier for cellular reprogramming.