Evolutionary developmental biology of our closest living relative, the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), is essential for understanding the origin of human traits. However, it is difficult to access developmental events in the chimpanzee in vivo because of technical and ethical restrictions. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) offer an alternative in vitro model system to investigate developmental events by overcoming the limitations of in vivo study. Here, we generated chimpanzee iPSCs from adult skin fibroblasts and reconstructed early neural development using in vitro differentiation culture conditions. Chimpanzee iPSCs were established using straightforward methods, namely, lipofection of plasmid vectors carrying human reprogramming factors, combined with maintenance in a comprehensive feeder-free culture. Ultimately, direct neurosphere formation culture induced rapid and efficient differentiation of neural stem cells from chimpanzee iPSCs. Time course analysis of neurosphere formation demonstrated ontogenetic changes in gene expression profiles and developmental potency along an early neural development path from epiblasts to radial glia. Our iPSC culture system is a potent tool for investigating the molecular and cellular foundation underlying chimpanzee early neural development and better understanding of human brain evolution.
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