An optimized small molecule inhibitor cocktail supports long-term maintenance of human embryonic stem cells.
ABSTRACT: A major challenge in stem cell-mediated regenerative medicine is the development of defined culture systems for the maintenance of clinical-grade human embryonic stem (hES) cells. Here, we identify, using a feedback system control scheme, a unique combination of three small molecule inhibitors that enables the maintenance of hES cells on a fibronectin-coated surface through single cell passaging. After 20 passages, the undifferentiated state of the hES cells was confirmed by OCT4, SSEA4 and NANOG expressions, whereas their pluripotent potential and genetic integrity were demonstrated by teratoma formation and normal karyotype, respectively. Our study attests to the power of the feedback system control scheme to quickly pinpoint optimal conditions for desired biological activities, and provides a chemically defined, scalable and single cell passaging culture system for hES cells.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Human embryonic stem (hES) cells serve as an invaluable tool for research and future medicine, but their transfection often leads to unwanted side effects as the method itself may induce differentiation. On the other hand, RNA interference (RNAi)-based targeted gene silencing is a quick, cost-effective, and easy-to-perform method to address questions regarding the function of genes, especially when hypomorphic knockdowns are needed. Therefore, effective transfection method with minimal side effects is essential for applying RNAi to hES cells. Here, we report a highly promising approach for targeted gene silencing in hES cells with siRNA complexed with cell-penetrating peptide PepFect 14 (PF14). This strategy provides researchers with efficient tool for unraveling the functions of genes or addressing the differentiation of pluripotent stem cells. METHODS:We present a method for delivery of siRNA into hES cells with cell-penetrating peptide PF14. Accordingly, hES cells were transfected in ROCK inhibitor containing medium for 24?h right after EDTA passaging as small cell clumps. Fluorescently labeled siRNA and siRNAs targeting OCT4 or beta-2-microglobulin (B2M) mRNA sequences were used to evaluate the efficiency of transfection and silencing. Analyses were performed at various time points by flow cytometry, RT-qPCR, and immunofluorescence microscopy. RESULTS:Effective downregulation of OCT4 in 70% of treated hES cells at protein level was achieved, along with 90% reduction at mRNA level in bulk population of cells. The applicability of this low-cost and easy-to-perform method was confirmed by inducing silencing of another target not associated with hES cell pluripotency (B2M). Furthermore, we discovered that downregulation of OCT4 induces neuroectodermal differentiation accompanied by reduced expression of B2M during early stage of this lineage. CONCLUSIONS:The results demonstrate PF14 as a promising tool for studying gene function and regulatory networks in hES cells by using RNAi.
Project description:Geometric factors including the size, shape, density, and spacing of pluripotent stem cell colonies play a significant role in the maintenance of pluripotency and in cell fate determination. These factors are impossible to control using standard tissue culture methods. As such, there can be substantial batch-to-batch variability in cell line maintenance and differentiation yield. Here, we demonstrate a simple, robust technique for pluripotent stem cell expansion and cardiomyocyte differentiation by patterning cell colonies with a silicone stencil. We have observed that patterning human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) colonies improves the uniformity and repeatability of their size, density, and shape. Uniformity of colony geometry leads to improved homogeneity in the expression of pluripotency markers SSEA4 and Nanog as compared with conventional clump passaging. Patterned cell colonies are capable of undergoing directed differentiation into spontaneously beating cardiomyocyte clusters with improved yield and repeatability over unpatterned cultures seeded either as cell clumps or uniform single cell suspensions. Circular patterns result in a highly repeatable 3D ring-shaped band of cardiomyocytes which electrically couple and lead to propagating contraction waves around the ring. Because of these advantages, geometrically patterning stem cells using stencils may offer greater repeatability from batch-to-batch and person-to-person, an increase in differentiation yield, a faster experimental workflow, and a simpler protocol to communicate and follow. Furthermore, the ability to control where cardiomyocytes arise across a culture well during differentiation could greatly aid the design of electrophysiological assays for drug-screening.
Project description:Glaucoma referrals continue to impart a significant burden on Hospital Eye Services (HES), with a large proportion of these false positives.To evaluate the Portsmouth glaucoma scheme, utilising virtual clinics, digital technology, and community optometrists to streamline glaucoma referrals.The stages of the patient trail were mapped and, at each step of the process, 100 consecutive patient decisions were identified. The diagnostic outcomes of 50 consecutive patients referred from the refinement scheme to the HES were identified.A total of 76% of 'glaucoma' referrals were suitable for the refinement scheme. Overall, 94% of disc images were gradeable in the virtual clinic. In all, 11% of patients 'attending' the virtual clinic were accepted into HES, with 89% being discharged for community follow-up. Of referrals accepted into HES, the positive predictive value (glaucoma/ocular hypertension/suspect) was 0.78 vs 0.37 in the predating 'unrefined' scheme (95% CI 0.65-0.87). The scheme has released 1400 clinic slots/year for HES, and has produced a £244 200/year cost saving for Portsmouth Hospitals' Trust.The refinement scheme is streamlining referrals and increasing the positive predictive rate in the diagnosis of glaucoma, glaucoma suspect or ocular hypertension. This consultant-led practice-based commissioning scheme, if adopted widely, is likely to incur a significant cost saving while maintaining high quality of care within the NHS.
Project description:Large-scale production of human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) by robust and economic methods has been one of the major challenges for translational realization of hiPSC technology. Here we demonstrate a scalable culture system for hiPSC expansion using the E8 chemically defined and xeno-free medium under either adherent or suspension conditions. To optimize suspension conditions guided by a computational simulation, we developed a method to efficiently expand hiPSCs as undifferentiated aggregates in spinner flasks. Serial passaging of two different hiPSC lines in the spinner flasks using the E8 medium preserved their normal karyotype and expression of undifferentiated state markers of TRA-1-60, SSEA4, OCT4, and NANOG. The hiPSCs cultured in spinner flasks for more than 10 passages not only could be remained pluripotent as indicated by in vitro and in vivo assays, but also could be efficiently induced toward mesodermal and hematopoietic differentiation. Furthermore, we established a xeno-free protocol of single-cell cryopreservation and recovery for the scalable production of hiPSCs in spinner flasks. This system is the first to enable an efficient scale-up bioprocess in completely xeno-free condition for the expansion and cryopreservation of hiPSCs with the quantity and quality compliant for clinical applications.
Project description:Human embryonic stem (hES) cells are pluripotent, capable of differentiating into any cell type of the body, and therefore have the ability to provide insights into mechanisms of human development and disease, as well as to provide a potentially unlimited supply of cells for cell-based therapy and diagnostics. Knowledge of the adhesion receptors that hES cells employ to engage extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins is of basic biological interest and can enhance the design of cell culture and implantation systems to enable these biomedical applications. Although hES cells express a variety of cell surface receptors, little is known about which integrins are involved during subculture and passage. Matrigel is broadly used as a cell adhesive matrix for hES cell culture. Here, we sought to identify which integrins hES cells exploit for adhesion to Matrigel-coated surfaces in defined medium conditions. Using RT-PCR, flow cytometry, and fluorescence immunochemistry, we found that numerous integrins were expressed by H1 hES cells; however, antibody blocking assays indicated that only alpha(v)beta(3), alpha(6), beta(1), and alpha(2)beta(1) played a significant role in the initial adhesion of the hES cells to Matrigel in defined medium conditions. We subsequently identified a cohort of synthetic peptides that, when adsorbed to the culture surface, promoted H1 hES cell attachment and proliferation, as well as maintained a pluripotent phenotype. Peptides designed to engage with alpha(v)beta(3), alpha(6), beta(1), and alpha(2)beta(1) integrins and syndecan-1 were tested both individually and in various combinations. A combination of two integrin-engaging peptides (AG-10, C-16) and one syndecan-engaging peptide (AG-73) was sufficient to promote hES cell adhesion, maintenance, and proliferation. We propose that a specific integrin "fingerprint" is necessary for maintenance of hES cell self-renewal, and synthetic culture systems must capture this engagement profile for hES cells to remain undifferentiated.-Meng, Y., Eshghi, S., Li, Y. J., Schmidt, R., Schaffer, D. V., Healy, K. E. Characterization of integrin engagement during defined human embryonic stem cell culture.
Project description:In complex systems, a critical transition is a shift in a system's dynamical regime from its current state to a strongly contrasting state as external conditions move beyond a tipping point. These transitions are often preceded by characteristic early warning signals such as increased system variability. However, early warning signals in complex, coupled human-environment systems (HESs) remain little studied. Here, we compare critical transitions and their early warning signals in a coupled HES model to an equivalent environment model uncoupled from the human system. We parameterize the HES model, using social and ecological data from old-growth forests in Oregon. We find that the coupled HES exhibits a richer variety of dynamics and regime shifts than the uncoupled environment system. Moreover, the early warning signals in the coupled HES can be ambiguous, heralding either an era of ecosystem conservationism or collapse of both forest ecosystems and conservationism. The presence of human feedback in the coupled HES can also mitigate the early warning signal, making it more difficult to detect the oncoming regime shift. We furthermore show how the coupled HES can be "doomed to criticality": Strategic human interactions cause the system to remain perpetually in the vicinity of a collapse threshold, as humans become complacent when the resource seems protected but respond rapidly when it is under immediate threat. We conclude that the opportunities, benefits, and challenges of modeling regime shifts and early warning signals in coupled HESs merit further research.
Project description:Many of the currently established human embryonic stem (hES) cell lines have been characterized extensively in terms of their gene expression profiles and genetic stability in culture. Recent studies have indicated that microRNAs (miRNAs), a class of noncoding small RNAs that participate in the regulation of gene expression, may play a key role in stem cell self-renewal and differentiation. Using both microarrays and quantitative PCR, we report here the differences in miRNA expression between undifferentiated hES cells and their corresponding differentiated cells that underwent differentiation in vitro over a period of 2 weeks. Our results confirm the identity of a signature miRNA profile in pluripotent cells, comprising a small subset of differentially expressed miRNAs in hES cells. Examining both mRNA and miRNA profiles under multiple conditions using cross-correlation, we find clusters of miRNAs grouped with specific, biologically interpretable mRNAs. We identify patterns of expression in the progression from hES cells to differentiated cells that suggest a role for selected miRNAs in maintenance of the undifferentiated, pluripotent state. Profiling of the hES cell "miRNA-ome" provides an insight into molecules that control cellular differentiation and maintenance of the pluripotent state, findings that have broad implications in development, homeostasis, and human disease states.
Project description:In guiding hES cell technology toward the clinic, one key issue to be addressed is to culture and maintain hES cells much more safely and economically in large scale. In order to avoid using mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) we isolated human fetal liver stromal cells (hFLSCs) from 14 weeks human fetal liver as new human feeder cells. hFLSCs feeders could maintain hES cells for 15 passages (about 100 days). Basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) is known to play an important role in promoting self-renewal of human embryonic stem (hES) cells. So, we established transgenic hFLSCs that stably express bFGF by lentiviral vectors. These transgenic human feeder cells--bFGF-hFLSCs maintained the properties of H9 hES cells without supplementing with any exogenous growth factors. H9 hES cells culturing under these conditions maintained all hES cell features after prolonged culture, including the developmental potential to differentiate into representative tissues of all three embryonic germ layers, unlimited and undifferentiated proliferative ability, and maintenance of normal karyotype. Our results demonstrated that bFGF-hFLSCs feeder cells were central to establishing the signaling network among bFGF, insulin-like growth factor 2 (IGF-2), and transforming growth factor ? (TGF-?), thereby providing the framework in which hES cells were instructed to self-renew or to differentiate. We also found that the conditioned medium of bFGF-hFLSCs could maintain the H9 hES cells under feeder-free conditions without supplementing with bFGF. Taken together, bFGF-hFLSCs had great potential as feeders for maintaining pluripotent hES cell lines more safely and economically.
Project description:The maintenance of the pluripotency of human embryonic stem (hES) cells requires special conditions for culturing. These conditions include specific growth factors containing media and extracellular matrix (ECM) or an appropriate substrate for adhesion. Interactions between the cells and ECM are mediated by integrins, which interact with the components of ECM in active conformation. This study focused on the characterisation of the role of integrin ?1 in the adhesion, migration and differentiation of hES cells. Blocking integrin ?1 abolished the adhesion of hES cells, decreasing their survival and pluripotency. This effect was in part rescued by the inhibition of RhoA signalling with Y-27632. The presence of Y-27632 increased the migration of hES cells and supported their differentiation into embryoid bodies. The differences in integrin ?1 recycling in the phosphorylation of the myosin light chain and in the localisation of TSC2 were observed between the hES cells growing as a single-cell culture and in a colony. The hES cells at the centre and borders of the colony were found to have differences in their morphology, migration and signalling network activity. We concluded that the availability of integrin ?1 was essential for the contraction, migration and differentiation ability of hES cells.
Project description:The identification of stem cells within a mixed population of cells is a major hurdle for stem cell biology--in particular, in the identification of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells during the reprogramming process. Based on the selective expression of stem cell surface markers, a method to specifically infect stem cells through antibody-conjugated lentiviral particles has been developed that can deliver both visual markers for live-cell imaging as well as selectable markers to enrich for iPS cells. Antibodies recognizing SSEA4 and CD24 mediated the selective infection of the iPS cells over the parental human fibroblasts, allowing for rapid expansion of these cells by puromycin selection. Adaptation of the vector allows for the selective marking of human embryonic stem (hES) cells for their removal from a population of differentiated cells. This method has the benefit that it not only identifies stem cells, but that specific genes, including positive and negative selection markers, regulatory genes or miRNA can be delivered to the targeted stem cells. The ability to specifically target gene delivery to human pluripotent stem cells has broad applications in tissue engineering and stem cell therapies.