Enhanced differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells into cardiomyocytes by bacteria-mediated transcription factors delivery.
ABSTRACT: Virus-mediated expression of defined transcription factor (TF) genes can effectively induce cellular reprogramming. However, sustained expression of the TFs often hinders pluripotent stem cell (PSC) differentiation into specific cell types, as each TF exerts its effect on PSCs for a defined period of time during differentiation. Here, we applied a bacterial type III secretion system (T3SS)-based protein delivery tool to directly translocate TFs in the form of protein into human PSCs. This transient protein delivery technique showed high delivery efficiency for hPSCs, and it avoids potential genetic alterations caused by the introduction of transgenes. In an established cardiomyocyte de novo differentiation procedure, five transcriptional factors, namely GATA4, MEF2C, TBX5, ESRRG and MESP1 (abbreviated as GMTEM), were translocated at various time points. By detecting the expression of cardiac marker genes (Nkx2.5 and cTnT), we found that GMTEM proteins delivered on mesoderm stage of the cardiomyocytes lineage differentiation significantly enhanced both the human ESC and iPSC differentiation into cardiomyocytes, while earlier or later delivery diminished the enhancing effect. Furthermore, all of the five factors were required to enhance the cardiac differentiation. This work provides a virus-free strategy of transient transcription factors delivery for directing human stem cell fate without jeopardizing genome integrity, thus safe for biomedical applications.
Project description:Cardiomyocytes (CMs) derived from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) possess a high potential for regenerative medicine. Previous publications suggested that viral transduction of a defined set of transcription factors (TFs) known to play pivotal roles in heart development also increases cardiomyogenesis in vitro upon overexpression in mouse or human ES cells. To circumvent issues associated with viral approaches such as insertional mutagenesis, we have established a transient transfection system for straightforward testing of TF combinations. Applying this method, the transfection efficiency and the temporal pattern of transgene expression were extensively assessed in hPSCs by quantitative real time-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR), TF-specific immunofluorescence analysis, and flow cytometry. Testing TF combinations in our approach revealed that BAF60C, GATA4, and MESP1 (BGM) were most effective for cardiac forward programming in human induced pluripotent stem cell lines and human ES cells as well. Removal of BAF60C slightly diminished formation of CM-like cells, whereas depletion of GATA4 or MESP1 abolished cardiomyogenesis. Each of these TFs alone had no inductive effect. In addition, we have noted sensitivity of CM formation to cell density effects, which highlights the necessity for cautious analysis when interpreting TF-directed lineage induction. In summary, this is the first report on TF-induced cardiomyogenesis of hPSCs applying a transient, nonintegrating method of cell transfection.
Project description:The mesoderm arises from pluripotent epiblasts and differentiates into multiple lineages; however, the underlying molecular mechanisms are unclear. Tbx6 is enriched in the paraxial mesoderm and is implicated in somite formation, but its function in other mesoderms remains elusive. Here, using direct reprogramming-based screening, single-cell RNA-seq in mouse embryos, and directed cardiac differentiation in pluripotent stem cells (PSCs), we demonstrated that Tbx6 induces nascent mesoderm from PSCs and determines cardiovascular and somite lineage specification via its temporal expression. Tbx6 knockout in mouse PSCs using CRISPR/Cas9 technology inhibited mesoderm and cardiovascular differentiation, whereas transient Tbx6 expression induced mesoderm and cardiovascular specification from mouse and human PSCs via direct upregulation of Mesp1, repression of Sox2, and activation of BMP/Nodal/Wnt signaling. Notably, prolonged Tbx6 expression suppressed cardiac differentiation and induced somite lineages, including skeletal muscle and chondrocytes. Thus, Tbx6 is critical for mesoderm induction and subsequent lineage diversification.
Project description:The clinical importance of anterior foregut endoderm (AFE) derivatives, such as thyrocytes, has led to intense research efforts for their derivation through directed differentiation of pluripotent stem cells (PSCs). Here, we identify transient overexpression of the transcription factor (TF) NKX2-1 as a powerful inductive signal for the robust derivation of thyrocyte-like cells from mouse PSC-derived AFE. This effect is highly developmental stage specific and dependent on FOXA2 expression levels and precise modulation of BMP and FGF signaling. The majority of the resulting cells express thyroid TFs (Nkx2-1, Pax8, Foxe1, Hhex) and thyroid hormone synthesis-related genes (Tg, Tpo, Nis, Iyd) at levels similar to adult mouse thyroid and give rise to functional follicle-like epithelial structures in Matrigel culture. Our findings demonstrate that NKX2-1 overexpression converts AFE to thyroid epithelium in a developmental time-sensitive manner and suggest a general methodology for manipulation of cell-fate decisions of developmental intermediates.
Project description:Forced expression of defined transcriptional factors has been well documented as an effective method for cellular reprogramming or directed differentiation. However, transgene expression is not amenable for therapeutic application due to potential insertional mutagenesis. Here, we have developed a bacterial type III secretion system (T3SS)-based protein delivery tool and shown its application in directing pluripotent stem cell differentiation by a controlled delivery of transcription factors relevant to early heart development. By fusing to an N-terminal secretion sequence for T3SS-dependent injection, three transcriptional factors, namely Gata4, Mef2c, and Tbx5 (abbreviated as GMT), were translocated into murine embryonic stem cells (ESCs), where the proteins are effectively targeted to the nucleus with an average intracellular half-life of 5.5?hours. Exogenous GMT protein injection activated the cardiac program, and multiple rounds of GMT protein delivery significantly improved the efficiency of ESC differentiation into cardiomyocytes. Combination of T3SS-mediated GMT delivery and Activin A treatment showed an additive effect, resulting in on average 60% of the ESCs differentiated into cardiomyocytes. ESC derived cardiomyocytes displayed spontaneous rhythmic contractile movement as well as normal hormonal responses. This work serves as a foundation for the bacterial delivery of multiple transcription factors to direct cell fate without jeopardizing genomic integrity.
Project description:Different populations of cardiovascular progenitor cells have been shown to possess varying differentiation potentials. They have also been used to facilitate heart repair. However, sensitive reporter cell lines that mark the human cardiovascular progenitors are in short supply. Methods: MESP1 marks the earliest population of cardiovascular progenitor cells during embryo development. Here, we generated a homozygous MESP1 knock-in reporter hESC line where mTomato gene joined to the MESP1 coding region via a 2A peptide, in which both MESP1 alleles were preserved. We performed transcriptome and functional analysis of human MESP1+ cardiovascular progenitor cells and tested their therapeutic potential using a rat model of myocardial infarction. Results: MESP1-mTomato knock-in reporter faithfully recapitulated the endogenous level of MESP1. Transcriptome analysis revealed that MESP1+ cells highly expressed early cardiovascular genes and heart development genes. The activation of MESP1 relied on the strength of canonical Wnt signaling, peak MESP1-mTomato fluorescence correlated with the window of canonical Wnt inhibition during in vitro differentiation. We further showed that MESP1 bound to the promoter of the WNT5A gene and the up-regulation of WNT5A expression suppressed canonical Wnt/?-CATENIN signaling. Moreover, induced MESP1 expression could substitute the canonical Wnt inhibition step and promote robust cardiomyocyte formation. We used a configurable, chemically defined, tri-lineage differentiation system to obtain cardiomyocytes, endothelial cells, and smooth muscle cells from MESP1+ cells at high efficiency. Finally, we showed that the engraftment of MESP1+ cells repaired rat myocardial infarction model. Conclusions: MESP1-mTomato reporter cells offered a useful platform to study cardiovascular differentiation from human pluripotent stem cells and explore their therapeutic potential in regenerative medicine.
Project description:Background Heart tube looping to form a 4-chambered heart is a critical stage of embryonic heart development, but the gene drivers and their regulatory targets have not been extensively characterized at the cell-type level. Methods and Results To study the interaction of signaling pathways, transcription factors (TFs), and genetic networks in the process, we constructed gene co-expression networks and identified gene modules highly activated in individual cardiomyocytes at multiple anatomical regions and developmental stages using previously published single-cell RNA-seq data. Function analyses of the modules uncovered major pathways important for spatiotemporal cardiomyocyte differentiation. Interestingly, about half of the pathways were highly active in cardiomyocytes at the outflow tract (OFT) and atrioventricular canal, including well-known pathways for cardiac development and many newly identified ones. We predicted that these OFT-atrioventricular canal pathways were regulated by a large number of TFs actively expressed at the OFT-atrioventricular canal cardiomyocytes, with the prediction supported by motif enrichment analysis, including 10 TFs that have not been previously associated with cardiac development (eg, Etv5, Rbpms, and Baz2b). Furthermore, we found that TF targets in the OFT-atrioventricular canal modules were most significantly enriched with genes associated with mouse heart developmental abnormalities and human congenital heart defects, in comparison with TF targets in other modules, consistent with the critical developmental roles of OFT. Conclusions By analyzing gene co-expression at single cardiomyocytes, our systematic study has uncovered many known and additional new important TFs and their regulated molecular signaling pathways that are spatiotemporally active during heart looping.
Project description:Pluripotent stem cells (PSCs), including induced PSCs, hold great potential for personalized disease modeling, drug testing and cell-based therapeutics. However, cells differentiated from PSCs remain immature in a dish, and thus there are serious caveats to their use in modeling adult-onset diseases such as cardiomyopathies and Alzheimer's disease. By taking advantage of knowledge gained about mammalian development and from bioinformatics analyses, we recently developed a neonatal rat system that enables maturation of PSC-derived cardiomyocytes into cardiomyocytes analogous to those seen in adult animals. Here we describe a detailed protocol that describes how to initiate the in vitro differentiation of mouse and human PSCs into cardiac progenitor cells, followed by intramyocardial delivery of the progenitor cells into neonatal rat hearts, in vivo incubation and analysis. The entire process takes ?6 weeks, and the resulting cardiomyocytes can be analyzed for morphology, function and gene expression. The neonatal system provides a valuable tool for understanding the maturation and pathogenesis of adult human heart muscle cells, and this concept may be expanded to maturing other PSC-derived cell types, including those containing mutations that lead to the development of diseases in the adult.
Project description:Tissue development results from lineage-specific transcription factors (TFs) programming a dynamic chromatin landscape through progressive cell fate transitions. Here, we define epigenomic landscape during epidermal differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) and create inference networks that integrate gene expression, chromatin accessibility, and TF binding to define regulatory mechanisms during keratinocyte specification. We found two critical chromatin networks during surface ectoderm initiation and keratinocyte maturation, which are driven by TFAP2C and p63, respectively. Consistently, TFAP2C, but not p63, is sufficient to initiate surface ectoderm differentiation, and TFAP2C-initiated progenitor cells are capable of maturing into functional keratinocytes. Mechanistically, TFAP2C primes the surface ectoderm chromatin landscape and induces p63 expression and binding sites, thus allowing maturation factor p63 to positively autoregulate its own expression and close a subset of the TFAP2C-initiated surface ectoderm program. Our work provides a general framework to infer TF networks controlling chromatin transitions that will facilitate future regenerative medicine advances.
Project description:Cell fate transitions are accompanied by global transcriptional, epigenetic and topological changes driven by transcription factors (TFs), as is strikingly exemplified by reprogramming somatic cells to pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) via expression of OCT4, KLF4, SOX2 and cMYC. How TFs orchestrate the complex molecular changes around their target gene loci in a temporal manner remains incompletely understood. Here, using KLF4 as a paradigm, we provide the first TF-centric view of chromatin reorganization and its association to 3D enhancer rewiring and transcriptional changes of linked genes during reprogramming of mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) to PSCs. Inducible depletion of KLF factors in PSCs caused a genome-wide decrease in the connectivity of enhancers, while disruption of individual KLF4 binding sites from PSC-specific enhancers was sufficient to impair enhancer-promoter contacts and reduce expression of associated genes. Our study provides an integrative view of the complex activities of a lineage-specifying TF during a controlled cell fate transition and offers novel insights into the order and nature of molecular events that follow TF binding.
Project description:The molecular mechanisms underlying mesodermal and cardiac specification from embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are not fully understood. Here, we showed that the BTB domain-containing zinc finger protein CIBZ is expressed in mouse ESCs but is dramatically downregulated during ESC differentiation. CIBZ deletion in ESCs induced specification toward mesoderm phenotypes and their differentiation into cardiomyocytes, whereas overexpression of CIBZ delayed these processes. During ESC differentiation, CIBZ loss-and-gain-of-function data indicate that CIBZ negatively regulates the expressions of Brachyury (T) and Mesp1, the key transcriptional factors responsible for the specification of mammalian mesoderm and cardiac progenitors, respectively. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays showed that CIBZ binds to T and Mesp1 promoters in undifferentiated ESCs, and luciferase assays indicate that CIBZ suppresses T and Mesp1 promoters. These findings demonstrate that CIBZ is a novel regulator of mesodermal and cardiac differentiation of ESCs, and suggest that CIBZ-mediated cardiac differentiation depends on the regulation of these two genes.