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Schwann-like cells from human melanocytes and their fate in sciatic nerve injury

Chi, Guang Fana,b; Kim, Dae-wooka,b; Jiang, Mei Huaa; Yoon, Kang Junb; Son, Youngsooka

doi: 10.1097/WNR.0b013e3283495942

We induced human melanocyte dedifferentiation to Schwann cell-like cells in vitro by a combination of forskolin, neuregulin-β1, neurotrophin-3, platelet-derived growth factor-aa, basic fibroblast growth factor, laminin, and heparin. Cultured human melanocytes constitutively expressed neural cell and melanocyte markers but melanocyte-specific marker, including microphthalmia-associated transcription factor and tyrosinase, expression was selectively lost after induction. In the sciatic nerve injury site, the induced cells were engrafted and closely aligned to axons and P0-expressing myelin sheaths, whereas uninduced cells were not colocalized with axons and myelin sheaths and reexpressed melanocyte-specific tyrosinase activity in vivo. Human melanocytes lose their melanocyte phenotype and transdifferentiate into Schwann cells under specific induction conditions and display their Schwann cell phenotype after transplantation to injured sciatic nerve tissue.

aDepartment of Genetic Engineering, College of Life Science and Graduate School of Biotechnology, Kyung Hee University, Yong In, Korea

bResearch Institute, Cell & Bio Inc., Seoul, Korea

Correspondence to Youngsook Son, PhD, Department of Genetic Engineering, Kyung Hee University, 1, Seocheon-dong, Kiheung-gu, Yong In 446-701, Korea Tel: +82 31 201 3822; fax: +82 31 206 3829; e-mail:

Guang Fan Chi, Dae-wook Kim are co-first authors.

Received April 6, 2011

Accepted May 29, 2011

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.