An Abbreviated Protocol for In Vitro Generation of Functional Human Embryonic Stem Cell-Derived Beta-Like Cells.
ABSTRACT: The ability to yield glucose-responsive pancreatic beta-cells from human pluripotent stem cells in vitro will facilitate the development of the cell replacement therapies for the treatment of Type 1 Diabetes. Here, through the sequential in vitro targeting of selected signaling pathways, we have developed an abbreviated five-stage protocol (25-30 days) to generate human Embryonic Stem Cell-Derived Beta-like Cells (ES-DBCs). We showed that Geltrex, as an extracellular matrix, could support the generation of ES-DBCs more efficiently than that of the previously described culture systems. The activation of FGF and Retinoic Acid along with the inhibition of BMP, SHH and TGF-beta led to the generation of 75% NKX6.1+/NGN3+ Endocrine Progenitors. The inhibition of Notch and tyrosine kinase receptor AXL, and the treatment with Exendin-4 and T3 in the final stage resulted in 35% mono-hormonal insulin positive cells, 1% insulin and glucagon positive cells and 30% insulin and NKX6.1 co-expressing cells. Functionally, ES-DBCs were responsive to high glucose in static incubation and perifusion studies, and could secrete insulin in response to successive glucose stimulations. Mitochondrial metabolic flux analyses using Seahorse demonstrated that the ES-DBCs could efficiently metabolize glucose and generate intracellular signals to trigger insulin secretion. In conclusion, targeting selected signaling pathways for 25-30 days was sufficient to generate ES-DBCs in vitro. The ability of ES-DBCs to secrete insulin in response to glucose renders them a promising model for the in vitro screening of drugs, small molecules or genes that may have potential to influence beta-cell function.
Project description:β-Cells derived from stem cells hold great promise for cell replacement therapy for diabetes. Here we examine the ability of nuclear transfer embryonic stem cells (NT-ESs) derived from a patient with type 1 diabetes to differentiate into β-cells and provide a source of autologous islets for cell replacement. NT-ESs differentiate in vitro with an average efficiency of 55% into C-peptide-positive cells, expressing markers of mature β-cells, including MAFA and NKX6.1. Upon transplantation in immunodeficient mice, grafted cells form vascularized islet-like structures containing MAFA/C-peptide-positive cells. These β-cells adapt insulin secretion to ambient metabolite status and show normal insulin processing. Importantly, NT-ES-β-cells maintain normal blood glucose levels after ablation of the mouse endogenous β-cells. Cystic structures, but no teratomas, were observed in NT-ES-β-cell grafts. Isogenic induced pluripotent stem cell lines showed greater variability in β-cell differentiation. Even though different methods of somatic cell reprogramming result in stem cell lines that are molecularly indistinguishable, full differentiation competence is more common in ES cell lines than in induced pluripotent stem cell lines. These results demonstrate the suitability of NT-ES-β-cells for cell replacement for type 1 diabetes and provide proof of principle for therapeutic cloning combined with cell therapy.
Project description:Pluripotent stem cells may serve as an alternative source of beta-like cells for replacement therapy of type 1 diabetes; however, the beta-like cells generated in many differentiation protocols are immature. The maturation of endogenous beta cells involves an increase in insulin expression starting in late gestation and a gradual acquisition of the abilities to sense glucose and secrete insulin by week 2 after birth in mice; however, what molecules regulate these maturation processes are incompletely known. In this study, we aim to identify small molecules that affect immature beta cells. A cell-based assay, using pancreatic beta-like cells derived from murine embryonic stem (ES) cells harboring a transgene containing an insulin 1-promoter driven enhanced green fluorescent protein reporter, was used to screen a compound library (NIH Clinical Collection-003). Cortisone, a glucocorticoid, was among five positive hit compounds. Quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction analysis revealed that glucocorticoids enhance the gene expression of not only insulin 1 but also glucose transporter-2 (Glut2; Slc2a2) and glucokinase (Gck), two molecules important for glucose sensing. Mifepristone, a pharmacological inhibitor of glucocorticoid receptor (GR) signaling, reduced the effects of glucocorticoids on Glut2 and Gck expression. The effects of glucocorticoids on ES-derived cells were further validated in immature primary islets. Isolated islets from 1-week-old mice had an increased Glut2 and Gck expression in response to a 4-day treatment of exogenous hydrocortisone in vitro. Gene deletion of GR in beta cells using rat insulin 2 promoter-driven Cre crossed with GRflox/flox mice resulted in a reduced gene expression of Glut2, but not Gck, and an abrogation of insulin secretion when islets were incubated in 0.5 mM d-glucose and stimulated by 17 mM d-glucose in vitro. These results demonstrate that glucocorticoids positively regulate glucose sensors in immature murine beta-like cells.
Project description:Directed differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells into functional insulin-producing beta-like cells holds great promise for cell replacement therapy for patients suffering from diabetes. This approach also offers the unique opportunity to study otherwise inaccessible aspects of human beta cell development and function in vitro. Here, we show that current pancreatic progenitor differentiation protocols promote precocious endocrine commitment, ultimately resulting in the generation of non-functional polyhormonal cells. Omission of commonly used BMP inhibitors during pancreatic specification prevents precocious endocrine formation while treatment with retinoic acid followed by combined EGF/KGF efficiently generates both PDX1(+) and subsequent PDX1(+)/NKX6.1(+) pancreatic progenitor populations, respectively. Precise temporal activation of endocrine differentiation in PDX1(+)/NKX6.1(+) progenitors produces glucose-responsive beta-like cells in vitro that exhibit key features of bona fide human beta cells, remain functional after short-term transplantation, and reduce blood glucose levels in diabetic mice. Thus, our simplified and scalable system accurately recapitulates key steps of human pancreas development and provides a fast and reproducible supply of functional human beta-like cells.
Project description:The generation of insulin-producing pancreatic cells from stem cells in vitro would provide an unprecedented cell source for drug discovery and cell transplantation therapy in diabetes. However, insulin-producing cells previously generated from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSC) lack many functional characteristics of bona fide β cells. Here we report a scalable differentiation protocol that can generate hundreds of millions of glucose-responsive β cells from hPSC in vitro. These stem cell derived cells (SC) express markers found in mature β cells, flux Ca2+ in response to glucose, package insulin into secretory granules and secrete quantities of insulin comparable to adult β cells in response to multiple sequential glucose challenges in vitro. Furthermore, these cells secrete human insulin into the serum of mice shortly after transplantation in a glucose-regulated manner, and transplantation of these cells ameliorates hyperglycemia in diabetic mice. Differentiated cells were sorted and processed for RNA isolation using the MARIS protocol published previously (PMID: 24516164.) Human embryonic stem cell (hESC) line HUES8 was differentiated into SC-beta cells. Two biological replicates were analyzed. Those data were normalized together with and compared to existing, previously published data from Hrvatin et al. ( (PMID: 24516164) from human islet -derived insulin+ cells, undifferentiated HUES8 hES cells, and insulin+ cells derived from HUES8 cells according to previously published protocols.
Project description:Pluri-potent bone marrow stromal cells (MSCs) provide an attractive opportunity to generate unlimited glucose-responsive insulin-producing cells for the treatment of diabetes. We explored the potential for human MSCs (hMSCs) to be differentiated into glucose-responsive cells through a non-viral genetic reprogramming approach.Two HMSC lines were transfected with three genes: PDX-1, NeuroD1 and Ngn3 without subsequent selection, followed by differentiation induction in vitro and transplantation into diabetic mice. Human MSCs expressed mRNAs of the archetypal stem cell markers: Sox2, Oct4, Nanog and CD34, and the endocrine cell markers: PDX-1, NeuroD1, Ngn3, and Nkx6.1. Following gene transfection and differentiation induction, hMSCs expressed insulin in vitro, but were not glucose regulated. After transplantation, hMSCs differentiated further and approximately 12.5% of the grafted cells expressed insulin. The graft bearing kidneys contained mRNA of insulin and other key genes required for the functions of beta cells. Mice transplanted with manipulated hMSCs showed reduced blood glucose levels (from 18.9+/-0.75 to 7.63+/-1.63 mM). 13 of the 16 mice became normoglycaemic (6.9+/-0.64 mM), despite the failure to detect the expression of SUR1, a K(+)-ATP channel component required for regulation of insulin secretion.Our data confirm that hMSCs can be induced to express insulin sufficient to reduce blood glucose in a diabetic mouse model. Our triple gene approach has created cells that seem less glucose responsive in vitro but which become more efficient after transplantation. The maturation process requires further study, particularly the in vivo factors influencing the differentiation, in order to scale up for clinical purposes.
Project description:Hepatic nuclear factor 1alpha (HNF1alpha) is a key regulator of development and function in pancreatic beta cells and is specifically involved in regulation of glycolysis and glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. Abnormal expression of HNF1alpha leads to development of MODY3 (maturity-onset diabetes of the young 3). We report that NK6 homeodomain 1 (NKX6.1) binds to a cis-regulatory element in the HNF1alpha promoter and is a major regulator of this gene in beta cells. We identified an NKX6.1 recognition sequence in the distal region of the HNF1alpha promoter and demonstrated specific binding of NKX6.1 in beta cells by electrophoretic mobility shift and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays. Site-directed mutagenesis of the NKX6.1 core-binding sequence eliminated NKX6.1-mediated activation and substantially decreased activity of the HNF1alpha promoter in beta cells. Overexpression or small interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of the Nkx6.1 gene resulted in increased or diminished HNF1alpha gene expression, respectively, in beta cells. We conclude that NKX6.1 is a novel regulator of HNF1alpha in pancreatic beta cells. This novel regulatory mechanism for HNF1alpha in beta cells may provide new molecular targets for the diagnosis of MODY3.
Project description:Pancreatic beta cells are unique effectors in the control of glucose homeostasis and their deficiency results in impaired insulin production leading to severe diabetic diseases. Here, we investigated the potential of a population of nonadherent muscle-derived stem cells (MDSC) from adult mouse muscle to differentiate in vitro into beta cells when transplanted as undifferentiated stem cells in vivo to compensate for beta-cell deficiency.In vitro, cultured MDSC spontaneously differentiated into insulin-expressing islet-like cell clusters as revealed using MDSC from transgenic mice expressing GFP or mCherry under the control of an insulin promoter. Differentiated clusters of beta-like cells co-expressed insulin with the transcription factors Pdx1, Nkx2.2, Nkx6.1, and MafA, and secreted significant levels of insulin in response to glucose challenges. In vivo, undifferentiated MDSC injected into streptozotocin (STZ)-treated mice engrafted within 48 h specifically to damaged pancreatic islets and were shown to differentiate and express insulin 10-12 days after injection. In addition, injection of MDSC into hyperglycemic diabetic mice reduced their blood glucose levels for 2-4 weeks.These data show that MDSC are capable of differentiating into mature pancreatic beta islet-like cells, not only upon culture in vitro, but also in vivo after systemic injection in STZ-induced diabetic mouse models. Being nonteratogenic, MDSC can be used directly by systemic injection, and this potential reveals a promising alternative avenue in stem cell-based treatment of beta-cell deficiencies.
Project description:The generation of insulin-producing pancreatic ? cells from stem cells in vitro would provide an unprecedented cell source for drug discovery and cell transplantation therapy in diabetes. However, insulin-producing cells previously generated from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSC) lack many functional characteristics of bona fide ? cells. Here, we report a scalable differentiation protocol that can generate hundreds of millions of glucose-responsive ? cells from hPSC in vitro. These stem-cell-derived ? cells (SC-?) express markers found in mature ? cells, flux Ca(2+) in response to glucose, package insulin into secretory granules, and secrete quantities of insulin comparable to adult ? cells in response to multiple sequential glucose challenges in vitro. Furthermore, these cells secrete human insulin into the serum of mice shortly after transplantation in a glucose-regulated manner, and transplantation of these cells ameliorates hyperglycemia in diabetic mice.
Project description:Diabetic patients exhibit a reduction in β cells, which secrete insulin to help regulate glucose homeostasis; however, little is known about the factors that regulate proliferation of these cells in human pancreas. Access to primary human β cells is limited and a challenge for both functional studies and drug discovery progress. We previously reported the generation of a human β cell line (EndoC-βH1) that was generated from human fetal pancreas by targeted oncogenesis followed by in vivo cell differentiation in mice. EndoC-βH1 cells display many functional properties of adult β cells, including expression of β cell markers and insulin secretion following glucose stimulation; however, unlike primary β cells, EndoC-βH1 cells continuously proliferate. Here, we devised a strategy to generate conditionally immortalized human β cell lines based on Cre-mediated excision of the immortalizing transgenes. The resulting cell line (EndoC-βH2) could be massively amplified in vitro. After expansion, transgenes were efficiently excised upon Cre expression, leading to an arrest of cell proliferation and pronounced enhancement of β cell-specific features such as insulin expression, content, and secretion. Our data indicate that excised EndoC-βH2 cells are highly representative of human β cells and should be a valuable tool for further analysis of human β cells.
Project description:All pancreatic endocrine cell types arise from a common endocrine precursor cell population, yet the molecular mechanisms that establish and maintain the unique gene expression programs of each endocrine cell lineage have remained largely elusive. Such knowledge would improve our ability to correctly program or reprogram cells to adopt specific endocrine fates. Here, we show that the transcription factor Nkx6.1 is both necessary and sufficient to specify insulin-producing beta cells. Heritable expression of Nkx6.1 in endocrine precursors of mice is sufficient to respecify non-beta endocrine precursors towards the beta cell lineage, while endocrine precursor- or beta cell-specific inactivation of Nkx6.1 converts beta cells to alternative endocrine lineages. Remaining insulin(+) cells in conditional Nkx6.1 mutants fail to express the beta cell transcription factors Pdx1 and MafA and ectopically express genes found in non-beta endocrine cells. By showing that Nkx6.1 binds to and represses the alpha cell determinant Arx, we identify Arx as a direct target of Nkx6.1. Moreover, we demonstrate that Nkx6.1 and the Arx activator Isl1 regulate Arx transcription antagonistically, thus establishing competition between Isl1 and Nkx6.1 as a critical mechanism for determining alpha versus beta cell identity. Our findings establish Nkx6.1 as a beta cell programming factor and demonstrate that repression of alternative lineage programs is a fundamental principle by which beta cells are specified and maintained. Given the lack of Nkx6.1 expression and aberrant activation of non-beta endocrine hormones in human embryonic stem cell (hESC)-derived insulin(+) cells, our study has significant implications for developing cell replacement therapies.