Using the timely re-activation of WNT signalling in neuralizing human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs), we have produced neural progenitor cells with a gene expression profile typical of human embryonic dentate gyrus (DG) cells. Notably, in addition to continuous WNT signalling, a specific laminin isoform is crucial to prolonging the neural stem state and to extending progenitor cell proliferation for over 200 days in vitro. Laminin 511 is indeed specifically required to support proliferation and to inhibit differentiation of hippocampal progenitor cells for extended time periods when compared with a number of different laminin isoforms assayed. Global gene expression profiles of these cells suggest that a niche of laminin 511 and WNT signalling is sufficient to maintain their capability to undergo typical hippocampal neurogenesis. Moreover, laminin 511 signalling sustains the expression of a set of genes responsible for the maintenance of a hippocampal neurogenic niche. Finally, xenograft of human DG progenitors into the DG of adult immunosuppressed host mice produces efficient integration of neurons that innervate CA3 layer cells spanning the same area of endogenous hippocampal neuron synapses.

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