JOURNAL ARTICLE

Inhibition of TGFβ signaling increases direct conversion of fibroblasts to induced cardiomyocytes

Jamie L Ifkovits, Russell C Addis, Jonathan A Epstein, John D Gearhart
PloS One 2014, 9 (2): e89678
24586958
Recent studies have been successful at utilizing ectopic expression of transcription factors to generate induced cardiomyocytes (iCMs) from fibroblasts, albeit at a low frequency in vitro. This work investigates the influence of small molecules that have been previously reported to improve differentiation to cardiomyocytes as well as reprogramming to iPSCs in conjunction with ectopic expression of the transcription factors Hand2, Nkx2.5, Gata4, Mef2C, and Tbx5 on the conversion to functional iCMs. We utilized a reporter system in which the calcium indicator GCaMP is driven by the cardiac Troponin T promoter to quantify iCM yield. The TGFβ inhibitor, SB431542 (SB), was identified as a small molecule capable of increasing the conversion of both mouse embryonic fibroblasts and adult cardiac fibroblasts to iCMs up to ∼5 fold. Further characterization revealed that inhibition of TGFβ by SB early in the reprogramming process led to the greatest increase in conversion of fibroblasts to iCMs in a dose-responsive manner. Global transcriptional analysis at Day 3 post-induction of the transcription factors revealed an increased expression of genes associated with the development of cardiac muscle in the presence of SB compared to the vehicle control. Incorporation of SB in the reprogramming process increases the efficiency of iCM generation, one of the major goals necessary to enable the use of iCMs for discovery-based applications and for the clinic.

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