Dynamic link between histone H3 acetylation and an increase in the functional characteristics of human ESC/iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes

Tomomi G Otsuji, Yuko Kurose, Hirofumi Suemori, Masako Tada, Norio Nakatsuji
PloS One 2012, 7 (9): e45010
Cardiomyocytes (CMs) derived from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) or human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) are functionally heterogeneous, display insufficient biological efficacy and generally possess the electrophysiological properties seen in fetal CMs. However, a homogenous population of hESC/hiPSC-CMs, with properties similar to those of adult human ventricular cells, is required for use in drug cardiotoxicity screening. Unfortunately, despite the requirement for the functional characteristics of post-mitotic beating cell aggregates to mimic the behavior of mature cardiomyocytes in vitro, few technological improvements have been made in this field to date. Previously, we showed that culturing hESC-CMs under low-adhesion conditions with cyclic replating confers continuous contractility on the cells, leading to a functional increase in cardiac gene expression and electrophysiological properties over time. The current study reveals that culturing hESC/hiPSC-CMs under non-adhesive culture conditions enhances the electrophysiological properties of the CMs through an increase in the acetylation of histone H3 lysine residues, as confirmed by western blot analyses. Histone H3 acetylation was induced chemically by treating primitive hESC/hiPSC-CMs with Trichostatin A (TSA), a histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor, resulting in an immediate increase in global cardiac gene expression. In functional analyses using multi-electrode array (MEA) recordings, TSA-treated hESC/hiPSC-CM colonies showed appropriate responses to particular concentrations of known potassium ion channel inhibitors. Thus, the combination of a cell-autonomous functional increase in response to non-adhesive culture and short-term TSA treatment of hESC/hiPSC-CM colonies cultured on MEA electrodes will help to make cardiac toxicity tests more accurate and reproducible via genome-wide chromatin activation.

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