A CX3CR1 Reporter hESC Line Facilitates Integrative Analysis of In-Vitro-Derived Microglia and Improved Microglia Identity upon Neuron-Glia Co-culture

Alexandra Grubman, Teresa H. Vandekolk, Jan Schröder, Guizhi Sun, Jessica Hatwell-Humble, Jonathan Chan, Minna Oksanen, Sarka Lehtonen, Cameron Hunt, Jari E. Koistinaho, Susan K. Nilsson, John M. Haynes, Colin W. Pouton, Jose M. Polo

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14 Citations (Scopus)


Multiple protocols have been published for generation of iMGLs from hESCs/iPSCs. To date, there are no guides to assist researchers to determine the most appropriate methodology for microglial studies. To establish a framework to facilitate future microglial studies, we first performed a comparative transcriptional analysis between iMGLs derived using three published datasets, which allowed us to establish the baseline protocol that is most representative of bona fide human microglia. Secondly, using CRISPR to tag the classic microglial marker CX3CR1 with nanoluciferase and tdTomato, we generated and functionally validated a reporter ESC line. Finally, using this cell line, we demonstrated that co-culture of iMGL precursors with human glia and neurons enhanced transcriptional resemblance of iMGLs to ex vivo microglia. Together, our comprehensive molecular analysis and reporter cell line are a useful resource for neurobiologists seeking to use iMGLs for disease modeling and drug screening studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1018-1032
Number of pages15
JournalStem Cell Reports
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jun 2020


  • in-vitro-derived microglia
  • integrative molecular analysis
  • microglia
  • microglia genetic reporter
  • PSC differentiation
  • RNA-seq
  • synapse internalization

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