Parallel Differentiation of Embryonic Stem Cells into Different Cell Types by a Single Gene-Based Differentiation System

University of Wuerzburg, Physiological Chemistry I, Biocenter, Wuerzburg, Germany.
Cellular reprogramming 03/2012; 14(2):106-11. DOI: 10.1089/cell.2011.0067
Source: PubMed


The generation of defined somatic cell types from pluripotent stem cells represents a promising system for many applications for regenerative therapy or developmental studies. Certain key developmental genes have been shown to be able to influence the fate determination of differentiating stem cells suggesting an alternative differentiation strategy to conventional medium-based methods. Here, we present a system allowing controlled, directed differentiation of embryonic stem cells (ESCs) solely by ectopic expression of single genes. We demonstrate that the myogenic master regulator myoD1 is sufficient to induce formation of skeletal muscle. In contrast to previous studies, our data suggest that myoD1-induced differentiation is independent of additional differentiation-inducing or lineage-promoting signals and occurs even under pluripotency-promoting conditions. Moreover, we demonstrate that single gene-induced differentiation enables the controlled formation of two distinct cell types in parallel. By mixing ES cell lines expressing myoD1 or the neural transcription factor ngn2, respectively, we generated a mixed culture of myocytes and neurons. Our findings provide new insights in the role of key developmental genes during cell fate decisions. Furthermore, this study represents an interesting strategy to obtain mixed cultures of different cells from stem cells, suggesting a valuable tool for cellular development and cell-cell interaction studies.

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    • "We suggest that this approach can be extended to generate other cell types if the appropriate TFs are identified. Indeed, we were recently able to use this approach for the generation of myoblasts by ectopic expression of MyoD1 [51]. Importantly, this process could be combined with the here presented Ngn2-induced differentiation allowing the formation of neurons and myoblasts in parallel. "
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    ABSTRACT: Recent studies show that combinations of defined key developmental transcription factors (TFs) can reprogram somatic cells to pluripotency or induce cell conversion of one somatic cell type to another. However, it is not clear if single genes can define a cell̀s identity and if the cell fate defining potential of TFs is also operative in pluripotent stem cells in vitro. Here, we show that ectopic expression of the neural TF Neurogenin2 (Ngn2) is sufficient to induce rapid and efficient differentiation of embryonic stem cells (ESCs) into mature glutamatergic neurons. Ngn2-induced neuronal differentiation did not require any additional external or internal factors and occurred even under pluripotency-promoting conditions. Differentiated cells displayed neuron-specific morphology, protein expression, and functional features, most importantly the generation of action potentials and contacts with hippocampal neurons. Gene expression analyses revealed that Ngn2-induced in vitro differentiation partially resembled neurogenesis in vivo, as it included specific activation of Ngn2 target genes and interaction partners. These findings demonstrate that a single gene is sufficient to determine cell fate decisions of uncommitted stem cells thus giving insights into the role of key developmental genes during lineage commitment. Furthermore, we present a promising tool to improve directed differentiation strategies for applications in both stem cell research and regenerative medicine.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2012 · PLoS ONE
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    ABSTRACT: Stem cells are a population of undifferentiated cells characterized by the ability to extensively proliferate (self-renewal), usually arise from a single cell (clonal), and differentiate into different types of cells and tissue (potent). There are several sources of stem cells with varying potencies. Pluripotent cells are embryonic stem cells derived from the inner cell mass of the embryo and induced pluripotent cells are formed following reprogramming of somatic cells. Pluripotent cells can differentiate into tissue from all 3 germ layers (endoderm, mesoderm, and ectoderm). Multipotent stem cells may differentiate into tissue derived from a single germ layer such as mesenchymal stem cells which form adipose tissue, bone, and cartilage. Tissue-resident stem cells are oligopotent since they can form terminally differentiated cells of a specific tissue. Stem cells can be used in cellular therapy to replace damaged cells or to regenerate organs. In addition, stem cells have expanded our understanding of development as well as the pathogenesis of disease. Disease-specific cell lines can also be propagated and used in drug development. Despite the significant advances in stem cell biology, issues such as ethical controversies with embryonic stem cells, tumor formation, and rejection limit their utility. However, many of these limitations are being bypassed and this could lead to major advances in the management of disease. This review is an introduction to the world of stem cells and discusses their definition, origin, and classification, as well as applications of these cells in regenerative medicine.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2013 · Respiration
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    ABSTRACT: Since the seminal discovery of the cell-fate regulator Myod, studies in skeletal myogenesis have inspired the search for cell-fate regulators of similar potential in other tissues and organs. It was perplexing that a similar transcription factor for other tissues was not found; however, it was later discovered that combinations of molecular regulators can divert somatic cell fates to other cell types. With the new era of reprogramming to induce pluripotent cells, the myogenesis paradigm can now be viewed under a different light. Here, we provide a short historical perspective and focus on how the regulation of skeletal myogenesis occurs distinctly in different scenarios and anatomical locations. In addition, some interesting features of this tissue underscore the importance of reconsidering the simple-minded view that a single stem cell population emerges after gastrulation to assure tissuegenesis. Notably, a self-renewing long-term Pax7+ myogenic stem cell population emerges during development only after a first wave of terminal differentiation occurs to establish a tissue anlagen in the mouse. How the future stem cell population is selected in this unusual scenario will be discussed. Recently, a wealth of information has emerged from epigenetic and genome-wide studies in myogenic cells. Although key transcription factors such as Pax3, Pax7, and Myod regulate only a small subset of genes, in some cases their genomic distribution and binding are considerably more promiscuous. This apparent nonspecificity can be reconciled in part by the permissivity of the cell for myogenic commitment, and also by new roles for some of these regulators as pioneer transcription factors acting on chromatin state.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · Current Topics in Developmental Biology
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