Embryonic stem (ES) cells differentiate into dopamine (DA)-producing neurons when co-cultured with PA6 stromal cells, but the resulting cultures contain a variety of unidentified cells. In order to label live DA neurons in mixed populations, we introduced a GFP reporter under the control of the tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) gene promoter into ES cells. GFP expression was observed in TH-immunoreactive cells that differentiated from the ES cells that carried the TH-GFPreporter gene. DA neurons expressing GFP were sorted from the mixed cell population by fluorescence-activated cell sorting of cells exhibiting GFP fluorescence, and the sorted GFP+ cells obtained were transplanted into a rat model of Parkinson's disease. Some of these cells survived and innervated the host striatum, resulting in a partial recovery from parkinsonian behavioral defects. This strategy of isolation and transplantation of ES-cell-derived DA neurons should be useful for cellular and molecular studies of DA neurons and for clinical application in the treatment of Parkinson's disease.
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