ResearchPad - cell-potency Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[The Rho-associated kinase inhibitor fasudil can replace Y-27632 for use in human pluripotent stem cell research]]> Poor survival of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) following freezing, thawing, or passaging hinders the maintenance and differentiation of stem cells. Rho-associated kinases (ROCKs) play a crucial role in hPSC survival. To date, a typical ROCK inhibitor, Y-27632, has been the primary agent used in hPSC research. Here, we report that another ROCK inhibitor, fasudil, can be used as an alternative and is cheaper than Y-27632. It increased hPSC growth following thawing and passaging, like Y-27632, and did not affect pluripotency, differentiation ability, and chromosome integrity. Furthermore, fasudil promoted retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) differentiation and the survival of neural crest cells (NCCs) during differentiation. It was also useful for single-cell passaging of hPSCs and during aggregation. These findings suggest that fasudil can replace Y-27632 for use in stem research.

<![CDATA[DeephESC 2.0: Deep Generative Multi Adversarial Networks for improving the classification of hESC]]>

Human embryonic stem cells (hESC), derived from the blastocysts, provide unique cellular models for numerous potential applications. They have great promise in the treatment of diseases such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, diabetes mellitus, etc. hESC are a reliable developmental model for early embryonic growth because of their ability to divide indefinitely (pluripotency), and differentiate, or functionally change, into any adult cell type. Their adaptation to toxicological studies is particularly attractive as pluripotent stem cells can be used to model various stages of prenatal development. Automated detection and classification of human embryonic stem cell in videos is of great interest among biologists for quantified analysis of various states of hESC in experimental work. Currently video annotation is done by hand, a process which is very time consuming and exhaustive. To solve this problem, this paper introduces DeephESC 2.0 an automated machine learning approach consisting of two parts: (a) Generative Multi Adversarial Networks (GMAN) for generating synthetic images of hESC, (b) a hierarchical classification system consisting of Convolution Neural Networks (CNN) and Triplet CNNs to classify phase contrast hESC images into six different classes namely: Cell clusters, Debris, Unattached cells, Attached cells, Dynamically Blebbing cells and Apoptically Blebbing cells. The approach is totally non-invasive and does not require any chemical or staining of hESC. DeephESC 2.0 is able to classify hESC images with an accuracy of 93.23% out performing state-of-the-art approaches by at least 20%. Furthermore, DeephESC 2.0 is able to generate large number of synthetic images which can be used for augmenting the dataset. Experimental results show that training DeephESC 2.0 exclusively on a large amount of synthetic images helps to improve the performance of the classifier on original images from 93.23% to 94.46%. This paper also evaluates the quality of the generated synthetic images using the Structural SIMilarity (SSIM) index, Peak Signal to Noise ratio (PSNR) and statistical p-value metrics and compares them with state-of-the-art approaches for generating synthetic images. DeephESC 2.0 saves hundreds of hours of manual labor which would otherwise be spent on manually/semi-manually annotating more and more videos.

<![CDATA[Individual response to mTOR inhibition in delaying replicative senescence of mesenchymal stromal cells]]>

Background aims

Delaying replicative senescence and extending lifespan of human mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) may enhance their potential for tissue engineering and cell based therapies. Accumulating evidence suggests that inhibitors of the mTOR signaling pathway, such as rapamycin, constitute promising pharmacological agents to retard senescence and extend stemness properties of various progenitor cell types. Here, we investigated whether the ability of rapamycin to postpone replicative senescence varies among bone marrow MSC samples (BM-MSCs) derived from different healthy donors, and explored the molecular mechanisms that drive rapamycin-mediated lifespan increment.


BM-MSCs at early passages were serially passaged either in absence or continuous presence of rapamycin and the number of cell population doublings until growth arrest was measured. The inhibition of mTOR signaling was assessed by the phosphorylation status of the downstream target RPS6. The expression levels of several senescence and pluripotency markers at early and late/senescent passages were analyzed by RT-qPCR, flow cytometry and western blot.


We found that the lifespan extension in response to the continuous rapamycin treatment was highly variable among samples, but effective in most BM-MSCs. Despite all rapamycin-treated cells secreted significantly reduced levels of IL6, a major SASP cytokine, and expressed significantly higher levels of the pluripotency marker NANOG, the expression patterns of these markers were not correlated with the rapamycin-mediated increase in lifespan. Interestingly, rapamycin-mediated life-span extension was significantly associated only with repression of p16INK4A protein accumulation.


Taken together, our results suggest that some, but not all, BM-MSC samples would benefit from using rapamycin to postpone replicative arrest and reinforce a critical role of p16INK4A protein downregulation in this process.

<![CDATA[Context-explorer: Analysis of spatially organized protein expression in high-throughput screens]]>

A growing body of evidence highlights the importance of the cellular microenvironment as a regulator of phenotypic and functional cellular responses to perturbations. We have previously developed cell patterning techniques to control population context parameters, and here we demonstrate context-explorer (CE), a software tool to improve investigation cell fate acquisitions through community level analyses. We demonstrate the capabilities of CE in the analysis of human and mouse pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs, mPSCs) patterned in colonies of defined geometries in multi-well plates. CE employs a density-based clustering algorithm to identify cell colonies. Using this automatic colony classification methodology, we reach accuracies comparable to manual colony counts in a fraction of the time, both in micropatterned and unpatterned wells. Classifying cells according to their relative position within a colony enables statistical analysis of spatial organization in protein expression within colonies. When applied to colonies of hPSCs, our analysis reveals a radial gradient in the expression of the transcription factors SOX2 and OCT4. We extend these analyses to colonies of different sizes and shapes and demonstrate how the metrics derived by CE can be used to asses the patterning fidelity of micropatterned plates. We have incorporated a number of features to enhance the usability and utility of CE. To appeal to a broad scientific community, all of the software’s functionality is accessible from a graphical user interface, and convenience functions for several common data operations are included. CE is compatible with existing image analysis programs such as CellProfiler and extends the analytical capabilities already provided by these tools. Taken together, CE facilitates investigation of spatially heterogeneous cell populations for fundamental research and drug development validation programs.

<![CDATA[A transient DMSO treatment increases the differentiation potential of human pluripotent stem cells through the Rb family]]>

The propensity for differentiation varies substantially across human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC) lines, greatly restricting the use of hPSCs for cell replacement therapy or disease modeling. Here, we investigate the underlying mechanisms and demonstrate that activation of the retinoblastoma (Rb) pathway in a transient manner is important for differentiation. In prior work, we demonstrated that pre-treating hPSCs with dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) before directed differentiation enhanced differentiation potential across all three germ layers. Here, we show that exposure to DMSO improves the efficiency of hPSC differentiation through Rb and by repressing downstream E2F-target genes. While transient inactivation of the Rb family members (including Rb, p107, and p130) suppresses DMSO’s capacity to enhance differentiation across all germ layers, transient expression of a constitutively active (non-phosphorylatable) form of Rb increases the differentiation efficiency similar to DMSO. Inhibition of downstream targets of Rb, such as E2F signaling, also promotes differentiation of hPSCs. More generally, we demonstrate that the duration of Rb activation plays an important role in regulating differentiation capacity.

<![CDATA[Small-molecule induction of Aβ-42 peptide production in human cerebral organoids to model Alzheimer's disease associated phenotypes]]>

Human mini-brains (MB) are cerebral organoids that recapitulate in part the complexity of the human brain in a unique three-dimensional in vitro model, yielding discrete brain regions reminiscent of the cerebral cortex. Specific proteins linked to neurodegenerative disorders are physiologically expressed in MBs, such as APP-derived amyloids (Aβ), whose physiological and pathological roles and interactions with other proteins are not well established in humans. Here, we demonstrate that neuroectodermal organoids can be used to study the Aβ accumulation implicated in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). To enhance the process of protein secretion and accumulation, we adopted a chemical strategy of induction to modulate post-translational pathways of APP using an Amyloid-β Forty-Two Inducer named Aftin-5. Secreted, soluble Aβ fragment concentrations were analyzed in MB-conditioned media. An increase in the Aβ42 fragment secretion was observed as was an increased Aβ42/Aβ40 ratio after drug treatment, which is consistent with the pathological-like phenotypes described in vivo in transgenic animal models and in vitro in induced pluripotent stem cell-derived neural cultures obtained from AD patients. Notably in this context we observe time-dependent Aβ accumulation, which differs from protein accumulation occurring after treatment. We show that mini-brains obtained from a non-AD control cell line are responsive to chemical compound induction, producing a shift of physiological Aβ concentrations, suggesting that this model can be used to identify environmental agents that may initiate the cascade of events ultimately leading to sporadic AD. Increases in both Aβ oligomers and their target, the cellular prion protein (PrPC), support the possibility of using MBs to further understand the pathophysiological role that underlies their interaction in a human model. Finally, the potential application of MBs for modeling age-associated phenotypes and the study of neurological disorders is confirmed.

<![CDATA[RG108 increases NANOG and OCT4 in bone marrow-derived mesenchymal cells through global changes in DNA modifications and epigenetic activation]]>

Human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hBMSCs) are important for tissue regeneration but their epigenetic regulation is not well understood. Here we investigate the ability of a non-nucleoside DNA methylation inhibitor, RG108 to induce epigenetic changes at both global and gene-specific levels in order to enhance mesenchymal cell markers, in hBMSCs. hBMSCs were treated with complete culture medium, 50 μM RG108 and DMSO for three days and subjected to viability and apoptosis assays, global and gene-specific methylation/hydroxymethylation, transcript levels’ analysis of epigenetic machinery enzymes and multipotency markers, protein activities of DNMTs and TETs, immunofluorescence staining and western blot analysis for NANOG and OCT4 and flow cytometry for CD105. The RG108, when used at 50 μM, did not affect the viability, apoptosis and proliferation rates of hBMSCs or hydroxymethylation global levels while leading to 75% decrease in DNMTs activity and 42% loss of global DNA methylation levels. In addition, DNMT1 was significantly downregulated while TET1 was upregulated, potentially contributing to the substantial loss of methylation observed. Most importantly, the mesenchymal cell markers CD105, NANOG and OCT4 were upregulated being NANOG and OCT4 epigenetically modulated by RG108, at their gene promoters. We propose that RG108 could be used for epigenetic modulation, promoting epigenetic activation of NANOG and OCT4, without affecting the viability of hBMSCs. DMSO can be considered a modulator of epigenetic machinery enzymes, although with milder effect compared to RG108.

<![CDATA[MicroRNA characterization in equine induced pluripotent stem cells]]>

Cell reprogramming has been well described in mouse and human cells. The expression of specific microRNAs has demonstrated to be essential for pluripotent maintenance and cell differentiation, but not much information is available in domestic species. We aim to generate horse iPSCs, characterize them and evaluate the expression of different microRNAs (miR-302a,b,c,d, miR-205, miR-145, miR-9, miR-96, miR-125b and miR-296). Two equine iPSC lines (L2 and L3) were characterized after the reprogramming of equine fibroblasts with the four human Yamanaka‘s factors (OCT-4/SOX-2/c-MYC/KLF4). The pluripotency of both lines was assessed by phosphatase alkaline activity, expression of OCT-4, NANOG and REX1 by RT-PCR, and by immunofluorescence of OCT-4, SOX-2 and c-MYC. In vitro differentiation to embryo bodies (EBs) showed the capacity of the iPSCs to differentiate into ectodermal, endodermal and mesodermal phenotypes. MicroRNA analyses resulted in higher expression of the miR-302 family, miR-9 and miR-96 in L2 and L3 vs. fibroblasts (p<0.05), as previously shown in human pluripotent cells. Moreover, downregulation of miR-145 and miR-205 was observed. After differentiation to EBs, higher expression of miR-96 was observed in the EBs respect to the iPSCs, and also the expression of miR-205 was induced but only in the EB-L2. In addition, in silico alignments of the equine microRNAs with mRNA targets suggested the ability of miR-302 family to regulate cell cycle and epithelial mesenchymal transition genes, miR-9 and miR-96 to regulate neural determinant genes and miR-145 to regulate pluripotent genes, similarly as in humans. In conclusion, we could obtain equine iPSCs, characterize them and determine for the first time the expression level of microRNAs in equine pluripotent cells.

<![CDATA[Meta-Analysis of EMT Datasets Reveals Different Types of EMT]]>

As a critical process during embryonic development, cancer progression and cell fate conversions, epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) has been extensively studied over the last several decades. To further understand the nature of EMT, we performed meta-analysis of multiple microarray datasets to identify the related generic signature. In this study, 24 human and 17 mouse microarray datasets were integrated to identify conserved gene expression changes in different types of EMT. Our integrative analysis revealed that there is low agreement among the list of the identified signature genes and three other lists in previous studies. Since removing the datasets with weakly-induced EMT from the analysis did not significantly improve the overlapping in the signature-gene lists, we hypothesized the existence of different types of EMT. This hypothesis was further supported by the grouping of 74 human EMT-induction samples into five distinct clusters, and the identification of distinct pathways in these different clusters of EMT samples. The five clusters of EMT-induction samples also improves the understanding of the characteristics of different EMT types. Therefore, we concluded the existence of different types of EMT was the possible reason for its complex role in multiple biological processes.

<![CDATA[NOTCH1, HIF1A and Other Cancer-Related Proteins in Lung Tissue from Uranium Miners—Variation by Occupational Exposure and Subtype of Lung Cancer]]>


Radon and arsenic are established pulmonary carcinogens. We investigated the association of cumulative exposure to these carcinogens with NOTCH1, HIF1A and other cancer-specific proteins in lung tissue from uranium miners.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Paraffin-embedded tissue of 147 miners was randomly selected from an autopsy repository by type of lung tissue, comprising adenocarcinoma (AdCa), squamous cell carcinoma (SqCC), small cell lung cancer (SCLC), and cancer-free tissue. Within each stratum, we additionally stratified by low or high level of exposure to radon or arsenic. Lifetime exposure to radon and arsenic was estimated using a quantitative job-exposure matrix developed for uranium mining. For 22 cancer-related proteins, immunohistochemical scores were calculated from the intensity and percentage of stained cells. We explored the associations of these scores with cumulative exposure to radon and arsenic with Spearman rank correlation coefficients (rs). Occupational exposure was associated with an up-regulation of NOTCH1 (radon rs = 0.18, 95% CI 0.02–0.33; arsenic: rs = 0.23, 95% CI 0.07–0.38). Moreover, we investigated whether these cancer-related proteins can classify lung cancer using supervised and unsupervised classification. MUC1 classified lung cancer from cancer-free tissue with a failure rate of 2.1%. A two-protein signature discriminated SCLC (HIF1A low), AdCa (NKX2-1 high), and SqCC (NKX2-1 low) with a failure rate of 8.4%.


These results suggest that the radiation-sensitive protein NOTCH1 can be up-regulated in lung tissue from uranium miners by level of exposure to pulmonary carcinogens. We evaluated a three-protein signature consisting of a physiological protein (MUC1), a cancer-specific protein (HIF1A), and a lineage-specific protein (NKX2-1) that could discriminate lung cancer and its major subtypes with a low failure rate.

<![CDATA[HIF-2α Regulates NANOG Expression in Human Embryonic Stem Cells following Hypoxia and Reoxygenation through the Interaction with an Oct-Sox Cis Regulatory Element]]>

Low O2 tension is beneficial for human embryonic stem cell (hESC) maintenance but the mechanism of regulation is unknown. HIF-2α was found to bind directly to predicted hypoxic response elements (HREs) in the proximal promoter of OCT4, NANOG and SOX2 only in hESCs cultured under hypoxia (5% O2). This binding induced an array of histone modifications associated with gene transcription while a heterochromatic state existed at atmospheric O2. Interestingly, an enhanced euchromatic state was found when hESCs were exposed to hypoxia followed by 72 hours reoxygenation. This was sustained by HIF-2α which enhanced stemness by binding to an oct-sox cis-regulatory element in the NANOG promoter. Thus, these data have uncovered a novel role of HIF-2α as a direct regulator of key transcription factors controlling self-renewal in hESCs but also in the induction of epigenetic modifications ensuring a euchromatic conformation which enhances the regenerative potential of these cells.

<![CDATA[The EP300, KDM5A, KDM6A and KDM6B Chromatin Regulators Cooperate with KLF4 in the Transcriptional Activation of POU5F1]]>

POU5F1 is essential for maintaining pluripotency in embryonic stem cells (ESCs). It has been reported that the constitutive activation of POU5F1 is sustained by the core transcriptional regulatory circuitry in ESCs; however, the means by which POU5F1 is epigenetically regulated remains enigmatic. In this study a fluorescence-based reporter system was used to monitor the interplay of 5 reprogramming-associated TFs and 17 chromatin regulators in the transcription of POU5F1. We show the existence of a stoichiometric effect for SOX2, POU5F1, NANOG, MYC and KLF4, in regulating POU5F1 transcription. Chromatin regulators EP300, KDM5A, KDM6A and KDM6B cooperate with KLF4 in promoting the transcription of POU5F1. Moreover, inhibiting HDAC activities induced the expression of Pou5f1 in mouse neural stem cells (NSCs) in a spatial- and temporal- dependent manner. Quantitative chromatin immunoprecipitation-PCR (ChIP-qPCR) shows that treatment with valproic acid (VPA) increases the recruitment of Kdm5a and Kdm6a to proximal promoter (PP) and proximal enhancer (PE) of Pou5f1 whereas enrichment of Ep300 and Kdm6b was seen in PP but not PE of Pou5f1 promoter. These findings reveal the interplay between the chromatin regulators and histone modifications in the expression of POU5F1.

<![CDATA[A Comparative Study of Growth Kinetics, In Vitro Differentiation Potential and Molecular Characterization of Fetal Adnexa Derived Caprine Mesenchymal Stem Cells]]>

The present study was conducted with an objective of isolation, in vitro expansion, growth kinetics, molecular characterization and in vitro differentiation of fetal adnexa derived caprine mesenchymal stem cells. Mid-gestation gravid caprine uteri (2–3 months) were collected from abattoir to derive mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) from fetal adnexa {amniotic fluid (cAF), amniotic sac (cAS), Wharton’s jelly (cWJ) and cord blood (cCB)} and expanded in vitro. These cultured MSCs were used at the 3rd passage (P3) to study growth kinetics, localization as well as molecular expression of specific surface antigens, pluripotency markers and mesenchymal tri-lineage differentiation. In comparison to cAF and cAS MSCs, cWJ and cCB MSCs showed significantly (P<0.05) higher clonogenic potency, faster growth rate and low population doubling (PDT) time. All the four types of MSCs were positive for alkaline phosphatase (AP) and differentiated into chondrogenic, osteogenic, and adipogenic lineages. These stem cells expressed MSC surface antigens (CD73, CD90 and CD105) and pluripotency markers (Oct4, Sox2, Nanog, KLF, cMyc, FoxD3) but did not express CD34, a hematopoietic stem cell marker (HSC) as confirmed by RT-PCR, immunocytochemistry and flow cytometric analysis. The relative mRNA expression of MSC surface antigens (CD73, CD90 and CD105) was significantly (P<0.05) higher in cWJ MSCs compared to the other cell lines. The mRNA expression of Oct4 was significantly (P<0.05) higher in cWJ, whereas mRNA expression of KLF and cMyc was significantly (P<0.05) higher in cWJ and cAF than that of cAS and cCB. The comparative assessment revealed that cWJ MSCs outperformed MSCs from other sources of fetal adnexa in terms of growth kinetics, relative mRNA expression of surface antigens, pluripotency markers and tri-lineage differentiation potential, hence, these MSCs could be used as a preferred source for regenerative medicine.

<![CDATA[Human Pluripotent Stem Cells and Derived Neuroprogenitors Display Differential Degrees of Susceptibility to BH3 Mimetics ABT-263, WEHI-539 and ABT-199]]>

Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) are hypersensitive to genotoxic stress and display lower survival ability relative to their differentiated progeny. Herein, we attempted to investigate the source of this difference by comparing the DNA damage responses triggered by the topoisomerase I inhibitor camptothecin, in hESCs, human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) and hESCs-derived neuroprogenitors (NP). We observed that upon camptothecin exposure pluripotent stem cells underwent apoptosis more swiftly and at a higher rate than differentiated cells. However, the cellular response encompassing ataxia-telangiectasia mutated kinase activation and p53 phosphorylation both on serine 15 as well as on serine 46 resulted very similar among the aforementioned cell types. Importantly, we observed that hESCs and hiPSCs express lower levels of the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2 than NP. To assess whether Bcl-2 abundance could account for this differential response we treated cells with ABT-263, WEHI-539 and ABT-199, small molecules that preferentially target the BH3-binding pocket of Bcl-xL and/or Bcl-2 and reduce their ability to sequester pro-apoptotic factors. We found that in the absence of stress stimuli, NP exhibited a higher sensitivity to ABT- 263 and WEHI-539 than hESCs and hiPSCs. Conversely, all tested cell types appeared to be highly resistant to the Bcl-2 specific inhibitor, ABT-199. However, in all cases we determined that ABT-263 or WEHI-539 treatment exacerbated camptothecin-induced apoptosis. Importantly, similar responses were observed after siRNA-mediated down-regulation of Bcl-xL or Bcl-2. Taken together, our results suggest that Bcl-xL contrary to Bcl-2 contributes to ensure cell survival and also functions as a primary suppressor of DNA double-strand brake induced apoptosis both in pluripotent and derived NP cells. The emerging knowledge of the relative dependence of pluripotent and progenitor cells on Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL activities may help to predict cellular responses and potentially manipulate these cells for therapeutic purposes in the near future.

<![CDATA[Ventx Factors Function as Nanog-Like Guardians of Developmental Potential in Xenopus]]>

Vertebrate development requires progressive commitment of embryonic cells into specific lineages through a continuum of signals that play off differentiation versus multipotency. In mammals, Nanog is a key transcription factor that maintains cellular pluripotency by controlling competence to respond to differentiation cues. Nanog orthologs are known in most vertebrates examined to date, but absent from the Anuran amphibian Xenopus. Interestingly, in silico analyses and literature scanning reveal that basal vertebrate ventral homeobox (ventxs) and mammalian Nanog factors share extensive structural, evolutionary and functional properties. Here, we reassess the role of ventx activity in Xenopus laevis embryos and demonstrate that they play an unanticipated role as guardians of high developmental potential during early development. Joint over-expression of Xenopus ventx1.2 and ventx2.1-b (ventx1/2) counteracts lineage commitment towards both dorsal and ventral fates and prevents msx1-induced ventralization. Furthermore, ventx1/2 inactivation leads to down-regulation of the multipotency marker oct91 and to premature differentiation of blastula cells. Finally, supporting the key role of ventx1/2 in the control of developmental potential during development, mouse Nanog (mNanog) expression specifically rescues embryonic axis formation in ventx1/2 deficient embryos. We conclude that during Xenopus development ventx1/2 activity, reminiscent of that of Nanog in mammalian embryos, controls the switch of early embryonic cells from uncommitted to committed states.

<![CDATA[Different reprogramming propensities in plants and mammals: Are small variations in the core network wirings responsible?]]>

Although the plant and animal kingdoms were separated more than 1,6 billion years ago, multicellular development is for both guided by similar transcriptional, epigenetic and posttranscriptional machinery. One may ask to what extent there are similarities and differences in the gene regulation circuits and their dynamics when it comes to important processes like stem cell regulation. The key players in mouse embryonic stem cells governing pluripotency versus differentiation are Oct4, Sox2 and Nanog. Correspondingly, the WUSCHEL and CLAVATA3 genes represent a core in the Shoot Apical Meristem regulation for plants. In addition, both systems have designated genes that turn on differentiation. There is very little molecular homology between mammals and plants for these core regulators. Here, we focus on functional homologies by performing a comparison between the circuitry connecting these players in plants and animals and find striking similarities, suggesting that comparable regulatory logics have been evolved for stem cell regulation in both kingdoms. From in silico simulations we find similar differentiation dynamics. Further when in the differentiated state, the cells are capable of regaining the stem cell state. We find that the propensity for this is higher for plants as compared to mammalians. Our investigation suggests that, despite similarity in core regulatory networks, the dynamics of these can contribute to plant cells being more plastic than mammalian cells, i.e. capable to reorganize from single differentiated cells to whole plants—reprogramming. The presence of an incoherent feed-forward loop in the mammalian core circuitry could be the origin of the different reprogramming behaviour.

<![CDATA[A Newly Defined and Xeno-Free Culture Medium Supports Every-Other-Day Medium Replacement in the Generation and Long-Term Cultivation of Human Pluripotent Stem Cells]]>

Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) present an unprecedented opportunity to advance human health by offering an alternative and renewable cell resource for cellular therapeutics and regenerative medicine. The present demand for high quality hPSCs for use in both research and clinical studies underscores the need to develop technologies that will simplify the cultivation process and control variability. Here we describe the development of a robust, defined and xeno-free hPSC medium that supports reliable propagation of hPSCs and generation of human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) from multiple somatic cell types; long-term serial subculturing of hPSCs with every-other-day (EOD) medium replacement; and banking fully characterized hPSCs. The hPSCs cultured in this medium for over 40 passages are genetically stable, retain high expression levels of the pluripotency markers TRA-1-60, TRA-1-81, Oct-3/4 and SSEA-4, and readily differentiate into ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm. Importantly, the medium plays an integral role in establishing a cGMP-compliant process for the manufacturing of hiPSCs that can be used for generation of clinically relevant cell types for cell replacement therapy applications.

<![CDATA[The Liberation of Embryonic Stem Cells]]>

Mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells are defined by their capacity to self-renew and their ability to differentiate into all adult tissues including the germ line. Along with efficient clonal propagation, these properties have made them an unparalleled tool for manipulation of the mouse genome. Traditionally, mouse ES (mES) cells have been isolated and cultured in complex, poorly defined conditions that only permit efficient derivation from the 129 mouse strain; genuine ES cells have not been isolated from another species in these conditions. Recently, use of small molecule inhibitors of glycogen synthase kinase 3 (Gsk3) and the Fgf-MAPK signaling cascade has permitted efficient derivation of ES cells from all tested mouse strains. Subsequently, the first verified ES cells were established from a non-mouse species, Rattus norvegicus. Here, we summarize the advances in our understanding of the signaling pathways regulating mES cell self-renewal that led to the first derivation of rat ES cells and highlight the new opportunities presented for transgenic modeling on diverse genetic backgrounds. We also comment on the implications of this work for our understanding of pluripotent stem cells across mammalian species.

<![CDATA[The Homeodomain-Containing Transcription Factors Arx and Pax4 Control Enteroendocrine Subtype Specification in Mice]]>

Intestinal hormones are key regulators of digestion and energy homeostasis secreted by rare enteroendocrine cells. These cells produce over ten different hormones including GLP-1 and GIP peptides known to promote insulin secretion. To date, the molecular mechanisms controlling the specification of the various enteroendocrine subtypes from multipotent Neurog3+ endocrine progenitor cells, as well as their number, remain largely unknown. In contrast, in the embryonic pancreas, the opposite activities of Arx and Pax4 homeodomain transcription factors promote islet progenitor cells towards the different endocrine cell fates. In this study, we thus investigated the role of Arx and Pax4 in enteroendocrine subtype specification. The small intestine and colon of Arx- and Pax4-deficient mice were analyzed using histological, molecular, and lineage tracing approaches. We show that Arx is expressed in endocrine progenitors (Neurog3+) and in early differentiating (ChromograninA) GLP-1-, GIP-, CCK-, Sct- Gastrin- and Ghrelin-producing cells. We noted a dramatic reduction or a complete loss of all these enteroendocrine cell types in Arx mutants. Serotonin- and Somatostatin-secreting cells do not express Arx and, accordingly, the differentiation of Serotonin cells was not affected in Arx mutants. However, the number of Somatostatin-expressing D-cells is increased as Arx-deficient progenitor cells are redirected to the D-cell lineage. In Pax4-deficient mice, the differentiation of Serotonin and Somatostatin cells is impaired, as well as of GIP and Gastrin cells. In contrast, the number of GLP-1 producing L-cells is increased concomitantly with an upregulation of Arx. Thus, while Arx and Pax4 are necessary for the development of L- and D-cells respectively, they conversely restrict D- and L-cells fates suggesting antagonistic functions in D/L cell allocation. In conclusion, these finding demonstrate that, downstream of Neurog3, the specification of a subset of enteroendocrine subtypes relies on both Arx and Pax4, while others depend only on Arx or Pax4.

<![CDATA[Isolation and Characterization of Neural Crest-Derived Stem Cells from Dental Pulp of Neonatal Mice]]>

Dental pulp stem cells (DPSCs) are shown to reside within the tooth and play an important role in dentin regeneration. DPSCs were first isolated and characterized from human teeth and most studies have focused on using this adult stem cell for clinical applications. However, mouse DPSCs have not been well characterized and their origin(s) have not yet been elucidated. Herein we examined if murine DPSCs are neural crest derived and determined their in vitro and in vivo capacity. DPSCs from neonatal murine tooth pulp expressed embryonic stem cell and neural crest related genes, but lacked expression of mesodermal genes. Cells isolated from the Wnt1-Cre/R26R-LacZ model, a reporter of neural crest-derived tissues, indicated that DPSCs were Wnt1-marked and therefore of neural crest origin. Clonal DPSCs showed multi-differentiation in neural crest lineage for odontoblasts, chondrocytes, adipocytes, neurons, and smooth muscles. Following in vivo subcutaneous transplantation with hydroxyapatite/tricalcium phosphate, based on tissue/cell morphology and specific antibody staining, the clones differentiated into odontoblast-like cells and produced dentin-like structure. Conversely, bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) gave rise to osteoblast-like cells and generated bone-like structure. Interestingly, the capillary distribution in the DPSC transplants showed close proximity to odontoblasts whereas in the BMSC transplants bone condensations were distant to capillaries resembling dentinogenesis in the former vs. osteogenesis in the latter. Thus we demonstrate the existence of neural crest-derived DPSCs with differentiation capacity into cranial mesenchymal tissues and other neural crest-derived tissues. In turn, DPSCs hold promise as a source for regenerating cranial mesenchyme and other neural crest derived tissues.