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  • Polystyrene nanoplastics affect transcriptomic and epigenomic signatures of human fibroblasts and derived induced pluripotent stem cells: Implications for human health. Environmental pollution (Barking, Essex : 1987) Stojkovic, M., Ortuño Guzmán, F. M., Han, D., Stojkovic, P., Dopazo, J., Stankovic, K. M. 2022: 120849


    Plastic pollution is increasing at an alarming rate yet the impact of this pollution on human health is poorly understood. Because human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC) are frequently derived from dermal fibroblasts, these cells offer a powerful platform for the identification of molecular biomarkers of environmental pollution in human cells. Here, we describe a novel proof-of-concept for deriving hiPSC from human dermal fibroblasts deliberately exposed to polystyrene (PS) nanoplastic particles; unexposed hiPSC served as controls. In parallel, unexposed hiPSC were exposed to low and high concentrations of PS nanoparticles. Transcriptomic and epigenomic signatures of all fibroblasts and hiPSCs were defined using RNA-seq and whole genome methyl-seq, respectively. Both PS-treated fibroblasts and derived hiPSC showed alterations in expression of ESRRB and HNF1A genes and circuits involved in the pluripotency of stem cells, as well as in pathways involved in cancer, inflammatory disorders, gluconeogenesis, carbohydrate metabolism, innate immunity, and dopaminergic synapse. Similarly, the expression levels of identified key transcriptional and DNA methylation changes (DNMT3A, ESSRB, FAM133CP, HNF1A, SEPTIN7P8, and TTC34) were significantly affected in both PS-exposed fibroblasts and hiPSC. This study illustrates the power of human cellular models of environmental pollution to narrow down and prioritize the list of candidate molecular biomarkers of environmental pollution. This knowledge will facilitate the deciphering of the origins of environmental diseases.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.envpol.2022.120849

    View details for PubMedID 36509347

  • Human induced pluripotent stem cells and CRISPR/Cas-mediated targeted genome editing: Platforms to tackle sensorineural hearing loss. Stem cells (Dayton, Ohio) Stojkovic, M., Han, D., Jeong, M., Stojkovic, P., Stankovic, K. M. 2021; 39 (6): 673-696


    Hearing loss (HL) is a major global health problem of pandemic proportions. The most common type of HL is sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) which typically occurs when cells within the inner ear are damaged. Human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) can be generated from any individual including those who suffer from different types of HL. The development of new differentiation protocols to obtain cells of the inner ear including hair cells (HCs) and spiral ganglion neurons (SGNs) promises to expedite cell-based therapy and screening of potential pharmacologic and genetic therapies using human models. Considering age-related, acoustic, ototoxic, and genetic insults which are the most frequent causes of irreversible damage of HCs and SGNs, new methods of genome editing (GE), especially the CRISPR/Cas9 technology, could bring additional opportunities to understand the pathogenesis of human SNHL and identify novel therapies. However, important challenges associated with both hiPSCs and GE need to be overcome before scientific discoveries are correctly translated to effective and patient-safe applications. The purpose of the present review is (a) to summarize the findings from published reports utilizing hiPSCs for studies of SNHL, hence complementing recent reviews focused on animal studies, and (b) to outline promising future directions for deciphering SNHL using disruptive molecular and genomic technologies.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/stem.3353

    View details for PubMedID 33586253

  • Postnatal expression and possible function of RANK and RANKL in the murine inner ear BONE Kao, S., Katsumi, S., Han, D., Bizaki-Vallaskangas, A. J., Vasilijic, S., Landegger, L. D., Kristiansen, A. G., McKenna, M. J., Stankovic, K. M. 2021; 145: 115837


    The bone encasing the inner ear, known as the otic capsule, is unique because it remodels little postnatally compared to other bones in the body. Previous studies established that osteoprotegerin (OPG) in the inner ear inhibits otic capsule remodeling. OPG acts as a decoy receptor of receptor activator of nuclear factor κB ligand (RANKL) to disrupt the interaction between RANKL and RANK, the primary regulators of bone metabolism. Here we studied the expression and function of RANK and RANKL in the murine cochlea. Using a combination of in situ hybridization, real-time quantitative RT-PCR, and western blot, we demonstrate that Rankl and Rank genes and their protein products are expressed in the intracochlear soft tissues and the otic capsule in a developmentally regulated manner. Using a culture of neonatal murine cochlear neurons, we show that the interaction between RANK and RANKL inhibits neurite outgrowth in these neurons, and is associated with upregulation of NOGO-A expression. Taken together, our results suggest that, in addition to regulating otic capsule bone remodeling, RANK and RANKL expressed by intracochlear soft tissues may also regulate spiral ganglion neuron function by affecting neurite outgrowth.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.bone.2020.115837

    View details for Web of Science ID 000623120700009

    View details for PubMedID 33385614

  • Direct SARS-CoV-2 infection of the human inner ear may underlie COVID-19-associated audiovestibular dysfunction Communications Medicine Jeong, M. 2021; 1 (1)
  • Role of Oct4 in pXEN cell differentiation and MET process Han, D. Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Berlin, Germany. 2019 ; Dissertation 122


    Rat primitive extraembryonic endoderm (pXEN) cell lines appear to represent the committed precursors of the extraembryonic endoderm. The pXEN cells maintained in the mesenchymal state can further differentiate to the parietal endoderm and visceral endoderm like-cells in vitro. In addition, pXEN cells maintain moderate levels of the ICM marker Oct4, a transcription factor that plays important roles in pluripotency, plasticity, and differentiation. However, the significance of Oct4 in pXEN cell lineage specification is unknown. We observed that rat pXEN cells show increased Oct4 expression at higher densities, a condition that also promotes their epithelialization (MET) and visceral endodermal (VE) differentiation. In order to elucidate whether the Oct4 expression is causally involved, we modulated the Oct4 levels. Transient knockdown of Oct4 tended to reduce the expression of MET/VE-associated genes; conversely, the doxycycline-induced expression of a human Oct4 transgene promoted MET/VE differentiation and prevented the formation of characteristic duct structures. In the latter case, the MET was preceded by an initial elongation and increased cell motility. Since GSK3 inhibitor and Activin A also stimulated the MET/VE phenotype, we then asked whether Oct4 acts through the Wnt/β-catenin or TGFβ pathways. Wnt inhibitors did not block the hOct4-induced MET and VE expression. By contrast, Repsox, an inhibitor of Alk5 (TGFBR1), prevented the hOct4-induced MET and the expression of MET and VE genes and rather stimulated the expression of parietal endoderm (PE) genes. Taken together, these data indicate a role for Oct4 in MET/VE differentiation via stimulation of TGFβ signaling. Further work is needed to determine how the two MET and VE differentiation processes are distinguished and related within the extraembryonic endoderm lineage.

  • Monoallelic gene targeting in hypoblast stem cells reveals X chromosome inactivation. Biochemical and biophysical research communications Han, D., Binas, B. 2012; 427 (3): 563-7


    We recently isolated hypoblast stem cells (HypoSC), which are related to embryonic stem (ES) cells. ES cells efficiently perform homologous recombination (HR) and lack X chromosome inactivation (Xi), but it is unknown whether the same applies to HypoSC. Using the X-linked hypoxanthine phosphoribosyl transferase (HPRT) gene, we find that HypoSC perform HR with similar frequency as ES cells. Monoallelic targeting in female HypoSC eliminated HPRT gene expression, implying epigenetic inactivation of the other allele. Although density-induced differentiation complicated selection, the targeted clones maintained their original properties. These results will facilitate targeted genetic manipulation of HypoSC and the study of Xi.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.bbrc.2012.09.097

    View details for PubMedID 23022182