Generation of functional murine cardiac myocytes from induced pluripotent stem cells

Christina Mauritz, Kristin Schwanke, Michael Reppel, Stefan Neef, Katherina Katsirntaki, Lars S Maier, Filomain Nguemo, Sandra Menke, Moritz Haustein, Juergen Hescheler, Gerd Hasenfuss, Ulrich Martin
Circulation 2008 July 29, 118 (5): 507-17

BACKGROUND: The recent breakthrough in the generation of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, which are almost indistinguishable from embryonic stem (ES) cells, facilitates the generation of murine disease- and human patient-specific stem cell lines. The aim of this study was to characterize the cardiac differentiation potential of a murine iPS cell clone in comparison to a well-established murine ES cell line.

METHODS AND RESULTS: With the use of a standard embryoid body-based differentiation protocol for ES cells, iPS cells as well as ES cells were differentiated for 24 days. Although the analyzed iPS cell clone showed a delayed and less efficient formation of beating embryoid bodies compared with the ES cell line, the differentiation resulted in an average of 55% of spontaneously contracting iPS cell embryoid bodies. Analyses on molecular, structural, and functional levels demonstrated that iPS cell-derived cardiomyocytes show typical features of ES cell-derived cardiomyocytes. Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction analyses demonstrated expression of marker genes typical for mesoderm, cardiac mesoderm, and cardiomyocytes including Brachyury, mesoderm posterior factor 1 (Mesp1), friend of GATA2 (FOG-2), GATA-binding protein 4 (GATA4), NK2 transcription factor related, locus 5 (Nkx2.5), T-box 5 (Tbx5), T-box 20 (Tbx20), atrial natriuretic factor (ANF), myosin light chain 2 atrial transcripts (MLC2a), myosin light chain 2 ventricular transcripts (MLC2v), alpha-myosin heavy chain (alpha-MHC), and cardiac troponin T in differentiation cultures of iPS cells. Immunocytology confirmed expression of cardiomyocyte-typical proteins including sarcomeric alpha-actinin, titin, cardiac troponin T, MLC2v, and connexin 43. iPS cell cardiomyocytes displayed spontaneous rhythmic intracellular Ca(2+) fluctuations with amplitudes of Ca(2+) transients comparable to ES cell cardiomyocytes. Simultaneous Ca(2+) release within clusters of iPS cell-derived cardiomyocytes indicated functional coupling of the cells. Electrophysiological studies with multielectrode arrays demonstrated functionality and presence of the beta-adrenergic and muscarinic signaling cascade in these cells.

CONCLUSIONS: iPS cells differentiate into functional cardiomyocytes. In contrast to ES cells, iPS cells allow derivation of autologous functional cardiomyocytes for cellular cardiomyoplasty and myocardial tissue engineering.

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