Human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) can generate virtually any cell type and therefore are applied to studies of organ development, disease modeling, drug screening and cell replacement therapy. Under proper culture conditions in vitro induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) can be differentiated to form organ-like tissues, also known as “organoids”, which resemble organs more closely than cells, in vivo. We hypothesized that human brain organoids can be used as an experimental model to study mechanisms underlying DNA repair in human neurons and their progenitors after radiation-induced DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs), the most severe form of DNA damage. To this end, we customized a protocol for brain organoid generation that is time efficient. These organoids recapitulate key features of human cortical neuron development, including a subventricular zone containing neural progenitors that mature to postmitotic cortical neurons. Using immunofluorescence to measure DNA DSB markers, such as γ-H2AX and 53BP1, we quantified the kinetics of DSB repair in neural progenitors within the subventricular zone for up to 24 h after a single 2 Gy dose of ionizing radiation. Our data on DNA repair in progenitor versus mature neurons indicate a similar timeline: both repair DNA DSBs which is mostly resolved by 18 h postirradiation. However, repair kinetics are more acute in progenitors than mature neurons in the mature organoid. Overall, this study supports the use of 3D organoid culture technology as a novel platform to study DNA damage responses in developing or mature neurons, which has been previously difficult to study.

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