JOURNAL ARTICLE

5-Azacytidine induces cardiac differentiation of human umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells by activating extracellular regulated kinase

Qian Qian, Hui Qian, Xu Zhang, Wei Zhu, Yongmin Yan, Shengqin Ye, Xiujuan Peng, Wei Li, Zhe Xu, Lingyun Sun, Wenrong Xu
Stem Cells and Development 2012, 21 (1): 67-75
21476855
5-Azacytidine (5-Aza) induces differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) into cardiomyocytes. However, the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. Our previous work showed that 5-Aza induces human bone marrow-derived MSCs to differentiate into cardiomyocytes. Here, we demonstrated that 5-Aza induced cardiac differentiation of human umbilical cord-derived MSCs (hucMSCs) and explored the potential signaling pathway. Our results showed that hucMSCs had cardiomyocyte phenotypes after 5-Aza treatment. In addition, myogenic cells differentiated from hucMSCs were positive for mRNA and protein of desmin, β-myosin heavy chain, cardiac troponin T, A-type natriuretic peptide, and Nkx2.5. Human diploid lung fibroblasts treated with 5-Aza expressed no cardiac-specific genes. 5-Aza did not induce hucMSCs to differentiate into osteoblasts. Further study revealed that 5-Aza treatment activated extracellular signal related kinases (ERK) in hucMSCs, but protein kinase C showed no response to 5-Aza administration. U0126, a specific inhibitor of ERK, could inhibit 5-Aza-induced expression of cardiac-specific genes and proteins in hucMSCs. Increased phosphorylation of signal transducers and activators of transcription 3, and up-regulation of myocyte enhancer-binding factor-2c and myogenic differentiation antigen in 5-Aza-treated hucMSCs were also suppressed by U0126. Taken together, these results suggested that sustained activation of ERK by 5-Aza contributed to the induction of the differentiation of hucMSCs into cardiomyocytes in vitro.

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