Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) can differentiate into neural progenitor cells (NPC) under proper conditions. NPC can be used as a model and is a useful tool for disease mechanism exploration and drug screening. However, the characteristics of the cells in various stages from NPC to functional neurons have not been fully described. This study investigated the characteristics of iPSC-derived NPCs during differentiation. Morphological characteristics of the NPCs, including soma area, neurite length, and the number of neurite branches, were examined on selected differentiation days. Physiological functions were assessed by recordings of sodium current, spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic current (sEPSC), and spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic current (sIPSC). Furthermore, gene expression patterns were assessed with RNA-seq. We found that NPCs derived from iPSCs can be differentiated into glutamatergic and gabaergic neurons. Cell growth peaked during differentiation day 7-12, as the soma area decreased after day 12, growth cone and the number of branches peaked at day 9 and decreased afterwards; whereas a functional synapse formed after day 23. RNA-seq analysis found that a differential expression pattern emerged by day 7. Overall, the study provides a framework for the differentiation process of hiPSC-derived NPCs.
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