Assistant Professor, Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine (2008 - Present)
Honors & Awards
Margaret and Herman Sokol Award, Biomedical Research (2007)
Longterm fellowship Human Frontiers Science Program Organisation, HFSP (2004-2006)
Cozzarelli Prize for outstanding scientific excellence, National Academy of Sciences USA (2009)
Donald E. and Delia B. Baxter Faculty Scholarship, Stanford University (2009)
Robertson Investigator Award, New York Stem Cell Foundation (2010)
New Scholar in Aging, Ellison Medical Foundation (2010)
Ascina Award, Republic of Austria (2010)
The Outstanding Young Investigator Award, International Society for Stem Cell Research (2013)
M.D., Technical University of Munich, Medicine (2000)
Current Research and Scholarly Interests
Our laboratory is generally interested in the molecular mechanisms that determine specific cell fates.
Recently, we have identified a pool of transcription factors that are sufficient to convert skin fibroblasts directly into functional neuronal cells that we termed induced neuronal (iN) cells. This was a surprising finding and indicated that direct lineage reprogramming may be applicable to many somatic cell types and many different directions. Indeed, following our work others have identified transcription factors that could induce cardiomyocytes, blood progenitors, and hepatocytes from fibroblasts.
We are now focussing on two major aspects of iN and iPS cell reprogramming:
(i) we are fascinated by the puzzle how a hand full of transcription factors can so efficiently reprogram the entire epigenome of a cell so that it changes identity. To that end we are applying genome-wide expression analysis, chromatin immunoprecipitation, protein biochemistry, proteomics and functional screens.
(ii) it is equally exciting to now use reprogramming methods as tools to study or treat certain diseases. iPS cells have the great advantage that they can easily be genetically manipulated rendering them ideal for treating monogenetic disorders when combined with cell transplantation-based therapies. In particular we are working on Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa in collaboration with Stanford's Dermatology Department. An exciting application of iN cell technology will be to try modeling neurological diseases in vitro. We perform both mouse and human experiments hoping to identify quantifiable phenotypes correlated with genotype and in a second step evaluate whether this assay could be used to discover novel drugs improve the disease progression.
Characteristics of Patients With Recessive Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa
Recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (RDEB) is a disease caused by genetic mutations in the gene for type VII collagen. Patients with RDEB develop large, severely painful blisters and open wounds from minor trauma to their skin. We are screening subjects with RDEB to evaluate characteristics of the subjects and their cells in order to develop new strategies of therapy and determine whether subjects could be candidates for treatment studies.
Independent Studies (15)
- Directed Reading in Cancer Biology
CBIO 299 (Aut, Win, Spr, Sum)
- Directed Reading in Neurosciences
NEPR 299 (Aut, Sum)
- Directed Reading in Pathology
PATH 299 (Aut, Win, Spr, Sum)
- Directed Reading in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine
STEMREM 299 (Win, Spr)
- Early Clinical Experience in Pathology
PATH 280 (Aut, Win, Spr, Sum)
- Graduate Research
CBIO 399 (Aut, Win, Spr, Sum)
- Graduate Research
NEPR 399 (Aut, Sum)
- Graduate Research
PATH 399 (Aut, Win, Spr, Sum)
- Graduate Research
STEMREM 399 (Aut, Win, Spr, Sum)
- Medical Scholars Research
PATH 370 (Aut, Win, Spr, Sum)
- Medical Scholars Research
STEMREM 370 (Win, Spr)
- Out-of-Department Advanced Research Laboratory in Experimental Biology
BIO 199X (Aut, Win, Spr)
- Teaching in Cancer Biology
CBIO 260 (Spr)
- Undergraduate Research
PATH 199 (Aut, Win, Spr, Sum)
- Undergraduate Research
STEMREM 199 (Aut, Win, Spr, Sum)
- Directed Reading in Cancer Biology
Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
Soham Chanda, Tivadar Danko, Jorge Davila, Daniel Haag, Justyna Janas, Moritz Mall, Lingjun Meng, Gernot Neumayer, Yohei Shibuya, Koji Tanabe, Nan Yang, Bo Zhou
Doctoral Dissertation Advisor (AC)
Cheen Euong Ang
Postdoctoral Research Mentor
Tivadar Danko, Daniel Haag, Bo Zhou
Graduate and Fellowship Programs
Early reprogramming regulators identified by prospective isolation and mass cytometry
2015; 521 (7552): 352-?
In the context of most induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell reprogramming methods, heterogeneous populations of non-productive and staggered productive intermediates arise at different reprogramming time points. Despite recent reports claiming substantially increased reprogramming efficiencies using genetically modified donor cells, prospectively isolating distinct reprogramming intermediates remains an important goal to decipher reprogramming mechanisms. Previous attempts to identify surface markers of intermediate cell populations were based on the assumption that, during reprogramming, cells progressively lose donor cell identity and gradually acquire iPS cell properties. Here we report that iPS cell and epithelial markers, such as SSEA1 and EpCAM, respectively, are not predictive of reprogramming during early phases. Instead, in a systematic functional surface marker screen, we find that early reprogramming-prone cells express a unique set of surface markers, including CD73, CD49d and CD200, that are absent in both fibroblasts and iPS cells. Single-cell mass cytometry and prospective isolation show that these distinct intermediates are transient and bridge the gap between donor cell silencing and pluripotency marker acquisition during the early, presumably stochastic, reprogramming phase. Expression profiling reveals early upregulation of the transcriptional regulators Nr0b1 and Etv5 in this reprogramming state, preceding activation of key pluripotency regulators such as Rex1 (also known as Zfp42), Dppa2, Nanog and Sox2. Both factors are required for the generation of the early intermediate state and fully reprogrammed iPS cells, and thus represent some of the earliest known regulators of iPS cell induction. Our study deconvolutes the first steps in a hierarchical series of events that lead to pluripotency acquisition.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nature14274
View details for Web of Science ID 000354816500056
View details for PubMedID 25830878
- Human COL7A1-corrected induced pluripotent stem cells for the treatment of recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa SCIENCE TRANSLATIONAL MEDICINE 2014; 6 (264)
Hierarchical Mechanisms for Direct Reprogramming of Fibroblasts to Neurons
2013; 155 (3): 621-635
Direct lineage reprogramming is a promising approach for human disease modeling and regenerative medicine, with poorly understood mechanisms. Here, we reveal a hierarchical mechanism in the direct conversion of fibroblasts into induced neuronal (iN) cells mediated by the transcription factors Ascl1, Brn2, and Myt1l. Ascl1 acts as an "on-target" pioneer factor by immediately occupying most cognate genomic sites in fibroblasts. In contrast, Brn2 and Myt1l do not access fibroblast chromatin productively on their own; instead, Ascl1 recruits Brn2 to Ascl1 sites genome wide. A unique trivalent chromatin signature in the host cells predicts the permissiveness for Ascl1 pioneering activity among different cell types. Finally, we identified Zfp238 as a key Ascl1 target gene that can partially substitute for Ascl1 during iN cell reprogramming. Thus, a precise match between pioneer factors and the chromatin context at key target genes is determinative for transdifferentiation to neurons and likely other cell types.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cell.2013.09.028
View details for Web of Science ID 000326571800016
- Generation of oligodendroglial cells by direct lineage conversion NATURE BIOTECHNOLOGY 2013; 31 (5): 434-?
Direct conversion of fibroblasts to functional neurons by defined factors
2010; 463 (7284): 1035-U50
Cellular differentiation and lineage commitment are considered to be robust and irreversible processes during development. Recent work has shown that mouse and human fibroblasts can be reprogrammed to a pluripotent state with a combination of four transcription factors. This raised the question of whether transcription factors could directly induce other defined somatic cell fates, and not only an undifferentiated state. We hypothesized that combinatorial expression of neural-lineage-specific transcription factors could directly convert fibroblasts into neurons. Starting from a pool of nineteen candidate genes, we identified a combination of only three factors, Ascl1, Brn2 (also called Pou3f2) and Myt1l, that suffice to rapidly and efficiently convert mouse embryonic and postnatal fibroblasts into functional neurons in vitro. These induced neuronal (iN) cells express multiple neuron-specific proteins, generate action potentials and form functional synapses. Generation of iN cells from non-neural lineages could have important implications for studies of neural development, neurological disease modelling and regenerative medicine.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nature08797
View details for Web of Science ID 000275108400027
View details for PubMedID 20107439
- Growth and splitting of neural sequences in songbird vocal development NATURE 2015; 528 (7582): 352-?
Crosstalk between stem cell and cell cycle machineries
CURRENT OPINION IN CELL BIOLOGY
2015; 37: 68-74
Pluripotent stem cells, defined by an unlimited self-renewal capacity and an undifferentiated state, are best typified by embryonic stem cells. These cells have a unique cell cycle compared to somatic cells as defined by a rapid progression through the cell cycle and a minimal time spent in G1. Recent reports indicate that pluripotency and cell cycle regulation are mechanistically linked. In this review, we discuss the reciprocal co-regulation of these processes, how this co-regulation may prevent differentiation, and how cellular reprogramming can re-establish the unique cell cycle regulation in induced pluripotent stem cells.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ceb.2015.10.001
View details for Web of Science ID 000367112800010
View details for PubMedID 26520682
Direct somatic lineage conversion.
Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences
2015; 370 (1680)
The predominant view of embryonic development and cell differentiation has been that rigid and even irreversible epigenetic marks are laid down along the path of cell specialization ensuring the proper silencing of unrelated lineage programmes. This model made the prediction that specialized cell types are stable and cannot be redirected into other lineages. Accordingly, early attempts to change the identity of somatic cells had little success and was limited to conversions between closely related cell types. Nuclear transplantation experiments demonstrated, however, that specialized cells even from adult mammals can be reprogrammed into a totipotent state. The discovery that a small combination of transcription factors can reprogramme cells to pluripotency without the need of oocytes further supported the view that these epigenetic barriers can be overcome much easier than assumed, but the extent of this flexibility was still unclear. When we showed that a differentiated mesodermal cell can be directly converted to a differentiated ectodermal cell without a pluripotent intermediate, it was suggested that in principle any cell type could be converted into any other cell type. Indeed, the work of several groups in recent years has provided many more examples of direct somatic lineage conversions. Today, the question is not anymore whether a specific cell type can be generated by direct reprogramming but how it can be induced.
View details for DOI 10.1098/rstb.2014.0368
View details for PubMedID 26416679
Human Neuropsychiatric Disease Modeling using Conditional Deletion Reveals Synaptic Transmission Defects Caused by Heterozygous Mutations in NRXN1
CELL STEM CELL
2015; 17 (3): 316-328
Heterozygous mutations of the NRXN1 gene, which encodes the presynaptic cell-adhesion molecule neurexin-1, were repeatedly associated with autism and schizophrenia. However, diverse clinical presentations of NRXN1 mutations in patients raise the question of whether heterozygous NRXN1 mutations alone directly impair synaptic function. To address this question under conditions that precisely control for genetic background, we generated human ESCs with different heterozygous conditional NRXN1 mutations and analyzed two different types of isogenic control and NRXN1 mutant neurons derived from these ESCs. Both heterozygous NRXN1 mutations selectively impaired neurotransmitter release in human neurons without changing neuronal differentiation or synapse formation. Moreover, both NRXN1 mutations increased the levels of CASK, a critical synaptic scaffolding protein that binds to neurexin-1. Our results show that, unexpectedly, heterozygous inactivation of NRXN1 directly impairs synaptic function in human neurons, and they illustrate the value of this conditional deletion approach for studying the functional effects of disease-associated mutations.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.stem.2015.07.017
View details for Web of Science ID 000364011000010
- Analysis of conditional heterozygous STXBP1 mutations in human neurons JOURNAL OF CLINICAL INVESTIGATION 2015; 125 (9): 3560-3571
A Continuous Molecular Roadmap to iPSC Reprogramming through Progression Analysis of Single-Cell Mass Cytometry
CELL STEM CELL
2015; 16 (3): 323-337
To analyze cellular reprogramming at the single-cell level, mass cytometry was used to simultaneously measure markers of pluripotency, differentiation, cell-cycle status, and cellular signaling throughout the reprogramming process. Time-resolved progression analysis of the resulting data sets was used to construct a continuous molecular roadmap for three independent reprogramming systems. Although these systems varied substantially in Oct4, Sox2, Klf4, and c-Myc stoichiometry, they presented a common set of reprogramming landmarks. Early in the reprogramming process, Oct4(high)Klf4(high) cells transitioned to a CD73(high)CD104(high)CD54(low) partially reprogrammed state. Ki67(low) cells from this intermediate population reverted to a MEF-like phenotype, but Ki67(high) cells advanced through the M-E-T and then bifurcated into two distinct populations: an ESC-like Nanog(high)Sox2(high)CD54(high) population and a mesendoderm-like Nanog(low)Sox2(low)Lin28(high)CD24(high)PDGFR-α(high) population. The methods developed here for time-resolved, single-cell progression analysis may be used for the study of additional complex and dynamic systems, such as cancer progression and embryonic development.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.stem.2015.01.015
View details for Web of Science ID 000350747700014
View details for PubMedID 25748935
Inhibition of Pluripotency Networks by the Rb Tumor Suppressor Restricts Reprogramming and Tumorigenesis
CELL STEM CELL
2015; 16 (1): 39-50
Mutations in the retinoblastoma tumor suppressor gene Rb are involved in many forms of human cancer. In this study, we investigated the early consequences of inactivating Rb in the context of cellular reprogramming. We found that Rb inactivation promotes the reprogramming of differentiated cells to a pluripotent state. Unexpectedly, this effect is cell cycle independent, and instead reflects direct binding of Rb to pluripotency genes, including Sox2 and Oct4, which leads to a repressed chromatin state. More broadly, this regulation of pluripotency networks and Sox2 in particular is critical for the initiation of tumors upon loss of Rb in mice. These studies therefore identify Rb as a global transcriptional repressor of pluripotency networks, providing a molecular basis for previous reports about its involvement in cell fate pliability, and implicate misregulation of pluripotency factors such as Sox2 in tumorigenesis related to loss of Rb function.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.stem.2014.10.019
View details for Web of Science ID 000347708400010
m(6)A RNA Modification Controls Cell Fate Transition in Mammalian Embryonic Stem Cells
CELL STEM CELL
2014; 15 (6): 707-719
N6-methyl-adenosine (m(6)A) is the most abundant modification on messenger RNAs and is linked to human diseases, but its functions in mammalian development are poorly understood. Here we reveal the evolutionary conservation and function of m(6)A by mapping the m(6)A methylome in mouse and human embryonic stem cells. Thousands of messenger and long noncoding RNAs show conserved m(6)A modification, including transcripts encoding core pluripotency transcription factors. m(6)A is enriched over 3' untranslated regions at defined sequence motifs and marks unstable transcripts, including transcripts turned over upon differentiation. Genetic inactivation or depletion of mouse and human Mettl3, one of the m(6)A methylases, led to m(6)A erasure on select target genes, prolonged Nanog expression upon differentiation, and impaired ESC exit from self-renewal toward differentiation into several lineages in vitro and in vivo. Thus, m(6)A is a mark of transcriptome flexibility required for stem cells to differentiate to specific lineages.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.stem.2014.09.019
View details for Web of Science ID 000347174300010
View details for PubMedID 25456834
Human COL7A1-corrected induced pluripotent stem cells for the treatment of recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa.
Science translational medicine
2014; 6 (264): 264ra163-?
Patients with recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (RDEB) lack functional type VII collagen owing to mutations in the gene COL7A1 and suffer severe blistering and chronic wounds that ultimately lead to infection and development of lethal squamous cell carcinoma. The discovery of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and the ability to edit the genome bring the possibility to provide definitive genetic therapy through corrected autologous tissues. We generated patient-derived COL7A1-corrected epithelial keratinocyte sheets for autologous grafting. We demonstrate the utility of sequential reprogramming and adenovirus-associated viral genome editing to generate corrected iPSC banks. iPSC-derived keratinocytes were produced with minimal heterogeneity, and these cells secreted wild-type type VII collagen, resulting in stratified epidermis in vitro in organotypic cultures and in vivo in mice. Sequencing of corrected cell lines before tissue formation revealed heterogeneity of cancer-predisposing mutations, allowing us to select COL7A1-corrected banks with minimal mutational burden for downstream epidermis production. Our results provide a clinical platform to use iPSCs in the treatment of debilitating genodermatoses, such as RDEB.
View details for DOI 10.1126/scitranslmed.3009540
View details for PubMedID 25429056
- Induced Neuronal Reprogramming JOURNAL OF COMPARATIVE NEUROLOGY 2014; 522 (12): 2877-2886
Induced neuronal reprogramming.
journal of comparative neurology
2014; 522 (12): 2877-2886
Cellular differentiation processes during normal embryonic development are guided by extracellular soluble factors such as morphogen gradients and cell contact signals, eventually resulting in induction of specific combinations of lineage-determining transcription factors. The young field of epigenetic reprogramming takes advantage of this knowledge and uses cell fate determination factors to convert one lineage into another such as the conversion of fibroblasts into pluripotent stem cells or neurons. These induced cell fate conversions open up new avenues for studying disease processes, generating cell material for therapeutic intervention such as drug screening and potentially also for cell-based therapies. However, there are still limitations that have to be overcome to fulfill these promises, centering on reprogramming efficiencies, cell identity, and maturation. In this review, we discuss the discovery of induced neuronal reprogramming, ways to improve the conversion process, and finally how to define properly the identity of those converted neuronal cells.
View details for DOI 10.1002/cne.23620
View details for PubMedID 24771471
Generation of induced neuronal cells by the single reprogramming factor ASCL1.
Stem cell reports
2014; 3 (2): 282-296
Direct conversion of nonneural cells to functional neurons holds great promise for neurological disease modeling and regenerative medicine. We previously reported rapid reprogramming of mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) into mature induced neuronal (iN) cells by forced expression of three transcription factors: ASCL1, MYT1L, and BRN2. Here, we show that ASCL1 alone is sufficient to generate functional iN cells from mouse and human fibroblasts and embryonic stem cells, indicating that ASCL1 is the key driver of iN cell reprogramming in different cell contexts and that the role of MYT1L and BRN2 is primarily to enhance the neuronal maturation process. ASCL1-induced single-factor neurons (1F-iN) expressed mature neuronal markers, exhibited typical passive and active intrinsic membrane properties, and formed functional pre- and postsynaptic structures. Surprisingly, ASCL1-induced iN cells were predominantly excitatory, demonstrating that ASCL1 is permissive but alone not deterministic for the inhibitory neuronal lineage.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.stemcr.2014.05.020
View details for PubMedID 25254342
Calcineurin Signaling Regulates Neural Induction through Antagonizing the BMP Pathway
2014; 82 (1): 109-124
Development of the nervous system begins with neural induction, which is controlled by complex signaling networks functioning in concert with one another. Fine-tuning of the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) pathway is essential for neural induction in the developing embryo. However, the molecular mechanisms by which cells integrate the signaling pathways that contribute to neural induction have remained unclear. We find that neural induction is dependent on the Ca(2+)-activated phosphatase calcineurin (CaN). Fibroblast growth factor (FGF)-regulated Ca(2+) entry activates CaN, which directly and specifically dephosphorylates BMP-regulated Smad1/5 proteins. Genetic and biochemical analyses revealed that CaN adjusts the strength and transcriptional output of BMP signaling and that a reduction of CaN activity leads to an increase of Smad1/5-regulated transcription. As a result, FGF-activated CaN signaling opposes BMP signaling during gastrulation, thereby promoting neural induction and the development of anterior structures.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.02.015
View details for Web of Science ID 000333804800012
- Harnessing the stem cell potential: a case for neural stem cell therapy. Nature medicine 2013; 19 (12): 1580-1581
Neurons generated by direct conversion of fibroblasts reproduce synaptic phenotype caused by autism-associated neuroligin-3 mutation
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
2013; 110 (41): 16622-16627
Recent studies suggest that induced neuronal (iN) cells that are directly transdifferentiated from nonneuronal cells provide a powerful opportunity to examine neuropsychiatric diseases. However, the validity of using this approach to examine disease-specific changes has not been demonstrated. Here, we analyze the phenotypes of iN cells that were derived from murine embryonic fibroblasts cultured from littermate wild-type and mutant mice carrying the autism-associated R704C substitution in neuroligin-3. We show that neuroligin-3 R704C-mutant iN cells exhibit a large and selective decrease in AMPA-type glutamate receptor-mediated synaptic transmission without changes in NMDA-type glutamate receptor- or in GABAA receptor-mediated synaptic transmission. Thus, the synaptic phenotype observed in R704C-mutant iN cells replicates the previously observed phenotype of R704C-mutant neurons. Our data show that the effect of the R704C mutation is applicable even to neurons transdifferentiated from fibroblasts and constitute a proof-of-concept demonstration that iN cells can be used for cellular disease modeling.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1316240110
View details for Web of Science ID 000325395600075
FOXO3 Shares Common Targets with ASCL1 Genome-wide and Inhibits ASCL1-Dependent Neurogenesis
2013; 4 (3): 477-491
FOXO transcription factors are central regulators of longevity from worms to humans. FOXO3, the FOXO isoform associated with exceptional human longevity, preserves adult neural stem cell pools. Here, we identify FOXO3 direct targets genome-wide in primary cultures of adult neural progenitor cells (NPCs). Interestingly, FOXO3-bound sites are enriched for motifs for bHLH transcription factors, and FOXO3 shares common targets with the proneuronal bHLH transcription factor ASCL1/MASH1 in NPCs. Analysis of the chromatin landscape reveals that FOXO3 and ASCL1 are particularly enriched at the enhancers of genes involved in neurogenic pathways. Intriguingly, FOXO3 inhibits ASCL1-dependent neurogenesis in NPCs and direct neuronal conversion in fibroblasts. FOXO3 also restrains neurogenesis in vivo. Our study identifies a genome-wide interaction between the prolongevity transcription factor FOXO3 and the cell-fate determinant ASCL1 and raises the possibility that FOXO3's ability to restrain ASCL1-dependent neurogenesis may help preserve the neural stem cell pool.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.celrep.2013.06.035
View details for Web of Science ID 000323542200009
View details for PubMedID 23891001
Acute reduction in oxygen tension enhances the induction of neurons from human fibroblasts
JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE METHODS
2013; 216 (2): 104-109
We and others have reported the successful conversion of human fibroblasts into functional induced neuronal (iN) cells; however the reprogramming efficiencies were very low. Robust reprogramming methods must be developed before iN cells can be used for translational applications such as disease modeling or transplantation-based therapies. Here, we describe a novel approach in which we significantly enhance iN cell conversion efficiency of human fibroblast cells by reprogramming under hypoxic conditions (5% O2). Fibroblasts were derived under high (21%) or low (5%) oxygen conditions and reprogrammed into iN cells using a combination of the four transcription factors BRN2, ASCL1, MYT1L and NEUROD1. An increase in Map2 immunostaining was only observed when fibroblasts experienced an acute drop in O2 tension upon infection. Interestingly, cells derived and reprogrammed under hypoxic conditions did not produce more iN cells. Approximately 100% of patched cells fired action potentials in low O2 conditions compared to 50% under high O2 growth conditions, confirming the beneficial aspect of reprogramming under low O2. Further characterization showed no significant difference in the intrinsic properties of iN cells reprogrammed in either condition. Surprisingly, the acute drop in oxygen tension did not affect cell proliferation or cell survival and was not synergistic with the blockade of GSK3β and Smad-mediated pathways. Our results showed that lowering the O2 tension at the initiation of reprogramming is a simple and efficient stratergy to enhance the production of iN cells which will facilitate their use for basic discovery and regenerative medicine.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2013.03.020
View details for Web of Science ID 000321168200004
Rapid Single-Step Induction of Functional Neurons from Human Pluripotent Stem Cells
2013; 78 (5): 785-798
Available methods for differentiating human embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent cells (iPSCs) into neurons are often cumbersome, slow, and variable. Alternatively, human fibroblasts can be directly converted into induced neuronal (iN) cells. However, with present techniques conversion is inefficient, synapse formation is limited, and only small amounts of neurons can be generated. Here, we show that human ESCs and iPSCs can be converted into functional iN cells with nearly 100% yield and purity in less than 2 weeks by forced expression of a single transcription factor. The resulting ES-iN or iPS-iN cells exhibit quantitatively reproducible properties independent of the cell line of origin, form mature pre- and postsynaptic specializations, and integrate into existing synaptic networks when transplanted into mouse brain. As illustrated by selected examples, our approach enables large-scale studies of human neurons for questions such as analyses of human diseases, examination of human-specific genes, and drug screening.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuron.2013.05.029
View details for Web of Science ID 000320743400006
- An indirect approach to generating specific human cell types NATURE METHODS 2013; 10 (1): 44-46
The many roads to Rome: induction of neural precursor cells from fibroblasts
CURRENT OPINION IN GENETICS & DEVELOPMENT
2012; 22 (5): 517-522
The experimental induction of specific cell fates in related or unrelated lineages has fascinated developmental biologists for decades. The evaluation of altered cell fates in response to ectopic expression during embryonic development has been a standard assay for interrogating gene function. However, until recently examples of cell lineage conversions were limited to closely related and primitive cell types. The induction of pluripotency in fibroblasts prominently highlighted that combinations of transcription factors can be extremely powerful and are much more effective than single genes. On the basis of this conclusion we previously identified transcription factor combinations that directly induce functional neuronal cells from mesodermal and endodermal cells. This work has evoked numerous additional studies demonstrating direct lineage conversion into neural and other lineages. Here, we review the generation of neural progenitor cells from fibroblasts, which is the newest addition to the arena of induced cell types. Surprisingly, two fundamentally different approaches have been taken to induce this cell type, one direct approach and another that involves the intermediate generation of a partially reprogrammed pluripotent state.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.gde.2012.07.002
View details for Web of Science ID 000311470900017
View details for PubMedID 22868177
Molecular Roadblocks for Cellular Reprogramming
2012; 47 (6): 827-838
During development, diverse cellular identities are established and maintained in the embryo. Although remarkably robust in vivo, cellular identities can be manipulated using experimental techniques. Lineage reprogramming is an emerging field at the intersection of developmental and stem cell biology in which a somatic cell is stably reprogrammed into a distinct cell type by forced expression of lineage-determining factors. Lineage reprogramming enables the direct conversion of readily available cells from patients (such as skin fibroblasts) into disease-relevant cell types (such as neurons and cardiomyocytes) or into induced pluripotent stem cells. Although remarkable progress has been made in developing novel reprogramming methods, the efficiency and fidelity of reprogramming need to be improved in order increase the experimental and translational utility of reprogrammed cells. Studying the mechanisms that prevent successful reprogramming should allow for improvements in reprogramming methods, which could have significant implications for regenerative medicine and the study of human disease. Furthermore, lineage reprogramming has the potential to become a powerful system for dissecting the mechanisms that underlie cell fate establishment and terminal differentiation processes. In this review, we will discuss how transcription factors interface with the genome and induce changes in cellular identity in the context of development and reprogramming.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.molcel.2012.09.008
View details for Web of Science ID 000309312900003
View details for PubMedID 23020854
Direct conversion of mouse fibroblasts to self-renewing, tripotent neural precursor cells
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
2012; 109 (7): 2527-2532
We recently showed that defined sets of transcription factors are sufficient to convert mouse and human fibroblasts directly into cells resembling functional neurons, referred to as "induced neuronal" (iN) cells. For some applications however, it would be desirable to convert fibroblasts into proliferative neural precursor cells (NPCs) instead of neurons. We hypothesized that NPC-like cells may be induced using the same principal approach used for generating iN cells. Toward this goal, we infected mouse embryonic fibroblasts derived from Sox2-EGFP mice with a set of 11 transcription factors highly expressed in NPCs. Twenty-four days after transgene induction, Sox2-EGFP(+) colonies emerged that expressed NPC-specific genes and differentiated into neuronal and astrocytic cells. Using stepwise elimination, we found that Sox2 and FoxG1 are capable of generating clonal self-renewing, bipotent induced NPCs that gave rise to astrocytes and functional neurons. When we added the Pou and Homeobox domain-containing transcription factor Brn2 to Sox2 and FoxG1, we were able to induce tripotent NPCs that could be differentiated not only into neurons and astrocytes but also into oligodendrocytes. The transcription factors FoxG1 and Brn2 alone also were capable of inducing NPC-like cells; however, these cells generated less mature neurons, although they did produce astrocytes and even oligodendrocytes capable of integration into dysmyelinated Shiverer brain. Our data demonstrate that direct lineage reprogramming using target cell-type-specific transcription factors can be used to induce NPC-like cells that potentially could be used for autologous cell transplantation-based therapies in the brain or spinal cord.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1121003109
View details for Web of Science ID 000300489200073
View details for PubMedID 22308465
Comprehensive qPCR profiling of gene expression in single neuronal cells
2012; 7 (1): 118-127
A major challenge in neuronal stem cell biology lies in characterization of lineage-specific reprogrammed human neuronal cells, a process that necessitates the use of an assay sensitive to the single-cell level. Single-cell gene profiling can provide definitive evidence regarding the conversion of one cell type into another at a high level of resolution. The protocol we describe uses Fluidigm Biomark dynamic arrays for high-throughput expression profiling from single neuronal cells, assaying up to 96 independent samples with up to 96 quantitative PCR (qPCR) probes (equivalent to 9,216 reactions) in a single experiment, which can be completed within 2-3 d. The protocol enables simple and cost-effective profiling of several hundred transcripts from a single cell, and it could have numerous utilities.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nprot.2011.430
View details for Web of Science ID 000299108900011
View details for PubMedID 22193304
Induced Neuronal Cells: How to Make and Define a Neuron
CELL STEM CELL
2011; 9 (6): 517-525
Cellular plasticity is a major focus of investigation in developmental biology. The recent discovery that induced neuronal (iN) cells can be generated from mouse and human fibroblasts by expression of defined transcription factors suggested that cell fate plasticity is much wider than previously anticipated. In this review, we summarize the most recent developments in this nascent field and suggest criteria to help define and categorize iN cells that take into account the complexity of neuronal identity.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.stem.2011.11.015
View details for Web of Science ID 000297895000012
View details for PubMedID 22136927
Cellular Reprogramming: Recent Advances in Modeling Neurological Diseases
JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE
2011; 31 (45): 16070-16075
The remarkable advances in cellular reprogramming have made it possible to generate a renewable source of human neurons from fibroblasts obtained from skin samples of neonates and adults. As a result, we can now investigate the etiology of neurological diseases at the cellular level using neuronal populations derived from patients, which harbor the same genetic mutations thought to be relevant to the risk for pathology. Therapeutic implications include the ability to establish new humanized disease models for understanding mechanisms, conduct high-throughput screening for novel biogenic compounds to reverse or prevent the disease phenotype, identify and engineer genetic rescue of causal mutations, and develop patient-specific cellular replacement strategies. Although this field offers enormous potential for understanding and treating neurological disease, there are still many issues that must be addressed before we can fully exploit this technology. Here we summarize several recent studies presented at a symposium at the 2011 annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, which highlight innovative approaches to cellular reprogramming and how this revolutionary technique is being refined to model neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases, such as autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia, familial dysautonomia, and Alzheimer's disease.
View details for DOI 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4218-11.2011
View details for Web of Science ID 000296799700005
View details for PubMedID 22072658
In Situ Genetic Correction of the Sickle Cell Anemia Mutation in Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Using Engineered Zinc Finger Nucleases
2011; 29 (11): 1717-1726
The combination of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology and targeted gene modification by homologous recombination (HR) represents a promising new approach to generate genetically corrected, patient-derived cells that could be used for autologous transplantation therapies. This strategy has several potential advantages over conventional gene therapy including eliminating the need for immunosuppression, avoiding the risk of insertional mutagenesis by therapeutic vectors, and maintaining expression of the corrected gene by endogenous control elements rather than a constitutive promoter. However, gene targeting in human pluripotent cells has remained challenging and inefficient. Recently, engineered zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs) have been shown to substantially increase HR frequencies in human iPSCs, raising the prospect of using this technology to correct disease causing mutations. Here, we describe the generation of iPSC lines from sickle cell anemia patients and in situ correction of the disease causing mutation using three ZFN pairs made by the publicly available oligomerized pool engineering method (OPEN). Gene-corrected cells retained full pluripotency and a normal karyotype following removal of reprogramming factor and drug-resistance genes. By testing various conditions, we also demonstrated that HR events in human iPSCs can occur as far as 82 bps from a ZFN-induced break. Our approach delineates a roadmap for using ZFNs made by an open-source method to achieve efficient, transgene-free correction of monogenic disease mutations in patient-derived iPSCs. Our results provide an important proof of principle that ZFNs can be used to produce gene-corrected human iPSCs that could be used for therapeutic applications.
View details for DOI 10.1002/stem.718
View details for Web of Science ID 000296565500009
View details for PubMedID 21898685
Direct Lineage Conversion of Terminally Differentiated Hepatocytes to Functional Neurons
CELL STEM CELL
2011; 9 (4): 374-382
Several recent studies have showed that mouse and human fibroblasts can be directly reprogrammed into induced neuronal (iN) cells, bypassing a pluripotent intermediate state. However, fibroblasts represent heterogeneous mesenchymal progenitor cells that potentially contain neural crest lineages, and the cell of origin remained undefined. This raises the fundamental question of whether lineage reprogramming is possible between cell types derived from different germ layers. Here, we demonstrate that terminally differentiated hepatocytes can be directly converted into functional iN cells. Importantly, single-cell and genome-wide expression analyses showed that fibroblast- and hepatocyte-derived iN cells not only induced a neuronal transcriptional program, but also silenced their donor transcriptome. The remaining donor signature decreased over time and could not support functional hepatocyte properties. Thus, the reprogramming factors lead to a binary lineage switch decision rather than an induction of hybrid phenotypes, but iN cells retain a small but detectable epigenetic memory of their donor cells.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.stem.2011.09.002
View details for Web of Science ID 000296041200015
View details for PubMedID 21962918
Direct lineage conversions: unnatural but useful?
2011; 29 (10): 892-907
Classic experiments such as somatic cell nuclear transfer into oocytes and cell fusion demonstrated that differentiated cells are not irreversibly committed to their fate. More recent work has built on these conclusions and discovered defined factors that directly induce one specific cell type from another, which may be as distantly related as cells from different germ layers. This suggests the possibility that any specific cell type may be directly converted into any other if the appropriate reprogramming factors are known. Direct lineage conversion could provide important new sources of human cells for modeling disease processes or for cellular-replacement therapies. For future applications, it will be critical to carefully determine the fidelity of reprogramming and to develop methods for robustly and efficiently generating human cell types of interest.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nbt.1946
View details for Web of Science ID 000296273000016
View details for PubMedID 21997635
Induction of human neuronal cells by defined transcription factors
2011; 476 (7359): 220-U122
Somatic cell nuclear transfer, cell fusion, or expression of lineage-specific factors have been shown to induce cell-fate changes in diverse somatic cell types. We recently observed that forced expression of a combination of three transcription factors, Brn2 (also known as Pou3f2), Ascl1 and Myt1l, can efficiently convert mouse fibroblasts into functional induced neuronal (iN) cells. Here we show that the same three factors can generate functional neurons from human pluripotent stem cells as early as 6?days after transgene activation. When combined with the basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor NeuroD1, these factors could also convert fetal and postnatal human fibroblasts into iN cells showing typical neuronal morphologies and expressing multiple neuronal markers, even after downregulation of the exogenous transcription factors. Importantly, the vast majority of human iN cells were able to generate action potentials and many matured to receive synaptic contacts when co-cultured with primary mouse cortical neurons. Our data demonstrate that non-neural human somatic cells, as well as pluripotent stem cells, can be converted directly into neurons by lineage-determining transcription factors. These methods may facilitate robust generation of patient-specific human neurons for in vitro disease modelling or future applications in regenerative medicine.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nature10202
View details for Web of Science ID 000293731900039
View details for PubMedID 21617644
Telomere shortening and loss of self-renewal in dyskeratosis congenita induced pluripotent stem cells
2011; 474 (7351): 399-?
The differentiation of patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to committed fates such as neurons, muscle and liver is a powerful approach for understanding key parameters of human development and disease. Whether undifferentiated iPSCs themselves can be used to probe disease mechanisms is uncertain. Dyskeratosis congenita is characterized by defective maintenance of blood, pulmonary tissue and epidermal tissues and is caused by mutations in genes controlling telomere homeostasis. Short telomeres, a hallmark of dyskeratosis congenita, impair tissue stem cell function in mouse models, indicating that a tissue stem cell defect may underlie the pathophysiology of dyskeratosis congenita. Here we show that even in the undifferentiated state, iPSCs from dyskeratosis congenita patients harbour the precise biochemical defects characteristic of each form of the disease and that the magnitude of the telomere maintenance defect in iPSCs correlates with clinical severity. In iPSCs from patients with heterozygous mutations in TERT, the telomerase reverse transcriptase, a 50% reduction in telomerase levels blunts the natural telomere elongation that accompanies reprogramming. In contrast, mutation of dyskerin (DKC1) in X-linked dyskeratosis congenita severely impairs telomerase activity by blocking telomerase assembly and disrupts telomere elongation during reprogramming. In iPSCs from a form of dyskeratosis congenita caused by mutations in TCAB1 (also known as WRAP53), telomerase catalytic activity is unperturbed, yet the ability of telomerase to lengthen telomeres is abrogated, because telomerase mislocalizes from Cajal bodies to nucleoli within the iPSCs. Extended culture of DKC1-mutant iPSCs leads to progressive telomere shortening and eventual loss of self-renewal, indicating that a similar process occurs in tissue stem cells in dyskeratosis congenita patients. These findings in iPSCs from dyskeratosis congenita patients reveal that undifferentiated iPSCs accurately recapitulate features of a human stem cell disease and may serve as a cell-culture-based system for the development of targeted therapeutics.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nature10084
View details for Web of Science ID 000291647100050
View details for PubMedID 21602826
- An imprinted signature helps isolate ESC-equivalent iPSCs CELL RESEARCH 2010; 20 (9): 974-976
Comparison of contractile behavior of native murine ventricular tissue and cardiomyocytes derived from embryonic or induced pluripotent stem cells
2010; 24 (8): 2739-2751
Cardiomyocytes generated from embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells are suggested for repopulation of destroyed myocardium. Because contractile properties are crucial for functional regeneration, we compared cardiomyocytes differentiated from ES cells (ESC-CMs) and iPS cells (iPS-CMs). Native myocardium served as control. Murine ESCs or iPS cells were differentiated 11 d in vitro and cocultured 5-7 d with irreversibly injured myocardial tissue slices. Vital embryonic ventricular tissue slices of similar age served for comparison. Force-frequency relationship (FFR), effects of Ca(2+), Ni(2+), nifedipine, ryanodine, beta-adrenergic, and muscarinic modulation were studied during loaded contractions. FFR was negative for ESC-CMs and iPS-CMs. FFR was positive for embryonic tissue and turned negative after treatment with ryanodine. In all groups, force of contraction and relaxation time increased with the concentration of Ca(2+) and decreased with nifedipine. Force was reduced by Ni(2+). Isoproterenol (1 microM) increased the force most pronounced in embryonic tissue (207+/-31%, n=7; ESC-CMs: 123+/-5%, n=4; iPS-CMs: 120+/-4%, n=8). EC(50) values were similar. Contractile properties of iPS-CMs and ESC-CMs were similar, but they were significantly different from ventricular tissue of comparable age. The results indicate immaturity of the sarcoplasmic reticulum and the beta-adrenergic response of iPS-CMs and ESC-CMs.
View details for DOI 10.1096/fj.09-145177
View details for Web of Science ID 000285005400015
View details for PubMedID 20371616
Generation of iPSCs from cultured human malignant cells
2010; 115 (20): 4039-4042
Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) can be generated from various differentiated cell types by the expression of a set of defined transcription factors. So far, iPSCs have been generated from primary cells, but it is unclear whether human cancer cell lines can be reprogrammed. Here we describe the generation and characterization of iPSCs derived from human chronic myeloid leukemia cells. We show that, despite the presence of oncogenic mutations, these cells acquired pluripotency by the expression of 4 transcription factors and underwent differentiation into cell types derived of all 3 germ layers during teratoma formation. Interestingly, although the parental cell line was strictly dependent on continuous signaling of the BCR-ABL oncogene, also termed oncogene addiction, reprogrammed cells lost this dependency and became resistant to the BCR-ABL inhibitor imatinib. This finding indicates that the therapeutic agent imatinib targets cells in a specific epigenetic differentiated cell state, and this may contribute to its inability to fully eradicate disease in chronic myeloid leukemia patients.
View details for DOI 10.1182/blood-2009-07-231845
View details for Web of Science ID 000277923600008
View details for PubMedID 20233975
Functional characterization of cardiomyocytes derived from murine induced pluripotent stem cells in vitro
2009; 23 (12): 4168-4180
Several types of terminally differentiated somatic cells can be reprogrammed into a pluripotent state by ectopic expression of Klf4, Oct3/4, Sox2, and c-Myc. Such induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells have great potential to serve as an autologous source of cells for tissue repair. In the process of developing iPS-cell-based therapies, the major goal is to determine whether differentiated cells derived from iPS cells, such as cardiomyocytes (CMs), have the same functional properties as their physiological in vivo counterparts. Therefore, we differentiated murine iPS cells to CMs in vitro and characterized them by RT-PCR, immunocytochemistry, and electrophysiology. As key markers of cardiac lineages, transcripts for Nkx2.5, alphaMHC, Mlc2v, and cTnT could be identified. Immunocytochemical stainings revealed the presence of organized sarcomeric actinin but the absence of mature atrial natriuretic factor. We examined characteristics and developmental changes of action potentials, as well as functional hormonal regulation and sensitivity to channel blockers. In addition, we determined expression patterns and functionality of cardiac-specific voltage-gated Na+, Ca2+, and K+ channels at early and late differentiation stages and compared them with CMs derived from murine embryonic stem cells (ESCs) as well as with fetal CMs. We conclude that iPS cells give rise to functional CMs in vitro, with established hormonal regulation pathways and functionally expressed cardiac ion channels; CMs generated from iPS cells have a ventricular phenotype; and cardiac development of iPS cells is delayed compared with maturation of native fetal CMs and of ESC-derived CMs. This difference may reflect the incomplete reprogramming of iPS cells and should be critically considered in further studies to clarify the suitability of the iPS model for regenerative medicine of heart disorders.
View details for DOI 10.1096/fj.08-128546
View details for Web of Science ID 000272193700013
View details for PubMedID 19703934
Cardiac Myocytes Derived from Murine Reprogrammed Fibroblasts: Intact Hormonal Regulation, Cardiac Ion Channel Expression and Development of Contractility
CELLULAR PHYSIOLOGY AND BIOCHEMISTRY
2009; 24 (1-2): 73-86
Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells have a developmental potential similar to that of blastocyst-derived embryonic stem (ES) cells and may serve as an autologous source of cells for tissue repair, in vitro disease modelling and toxicity assays. Here we aimed at generating iPS cell-derived cardiomyocytes (CMs) and comparing their molecular and functional characteristics with CMs derived from native murine ES cells.Beating cardiomyocytes were generated using a mass culture system from murine N10 and O9 iPS cells as well as R1 and D3 ES cells. Transcripts of the mesoderm specification factor T-brachyury and non-atrial cardiac specific genes were expressed in differentiating iPS EBs. Using immunocytochemistry to determine the expression and intracellular organisation of cardiac specific structural proteins we demonstrate strong similarity between iPS-CMs and ES-CMs. In line with a previous study electrophysiological analyses showed that hormonal response to beta-adrenergic and muscarinic receptor stimulation was intact. Action potential (AP) recordings suggested that most iPS-CMs measured up to day 23 of differentiation are of ventricular-like type. Application of lidocaine, Cs+, SEA0400 and verapamil+ nifedipine to plated iPS-EBs during multi-electrode array (MEA) measurements of extracellular field potentials and intracellular sharp electrode recordings of APs revealed the presence of I(Na), I(f), I(NCX), and I(CaL), respectively, and suggested their involvement in cardiac pacemaking, with I(CaL) being of major importance. Furthermore, iPS-CMs developed and conferred force to avitalized ventricular tissue that was responsive to beta-adrenergic stimulation.Our data demonstrate that the cardiogenic potential of iPS cells is comparable to that of ES cells and that iPS-CMs possess all fundamental functional elements of a typical cardiac cell, including spontaneous beating, hormonal regulation, cardiac ion channel expression and contractility. Therefore, iPS-CMs can be regarded as a potentially valuable source of cells for in vitro studies and cellular cardiomyoplasty.
View details for DOI 10.1159/000227815
View details for Web of Science ID 000267650600009
View details for PubMedID 19590195
Connecting microRNA genes to the core transcriptional regulatory circuitry of embryonic stem cells
2008; 134 (3): 521-533
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are crucial for normal embryonic stem (ES) cell self-renewal and cellular differentiation, but how miRNA gene expression is controlled by the key transcriptional regulators of ES cells has not been established. We describe here the transcriptional regulatory circuitry of ES cells that incorporates protein-coding and miRNA genes based on high-resolution ChIP-seq data, systematic identification of miRNA promoters, and quantitative sequencing of short transcripts in multiple cell types. We find that the key ES cell transcription factors are associated with promoters for miRNAs that are preferentially expressed in ES cells and with promoters for a set of silent miRNA genes. This silent set of miRNA genes is co-occupied by Polycomb group proteins in ES cells and shows tissue-specific expression in differentiated cells. These data reveal how key ES cell transcription factors promote the ES cell miRNA expression program and integrate miRNAs into the regulatory circuitry controlling ES cell identity.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cell.2008.07.020
View details for Web of Science ID 000258665500024
View details for PubMedID 18692474
Genome-scale DNA methylation maps of pluripotent and differentiated cells
2008; 454 (7205): 766-U91
DNA methylation is essential for normal development and has been implicated in many pathologies including cancer. Our knowledge about the genome-wide distribution of DNA methylation, how it changes during cellular differentiation and how it relates to histone methylation and other chromatin modifications in mammals remains limited. Here we report the generation and analysis of genome-scale DNA methylation profiles at nucleotide resolution in mammalian cells. Using high-throughput reduced representation bisulphite sequencing and single-molecule-based sequencing, we generated DNA methylation maps covering most CpG islands, and a representative sampling of conserved non-coding elements, transposons and other genomic features, for mouse embryonic stem cells, embryonic-stem-cell-derived and primary neural cells, and eight other primary tissues. Several key findings emerge from the data. First, DNA methylation patterns are better correlated with histone methylation patterns than with the underlying genome sequence context. Second, methylation of CpGs are dynamic epigenetic marks that undergo extensive changes during cellular differentiation, particularly in regulatory regions outside of core promoters. Third, analysis of embryonic-stem-cell-derived and primary cells reveals that 'weak' CpG islands associated with a specific set of developmentally regulated genes undergo aberrant hypermethylation during extended proliferation in vitro, in a pattern reminiscent of that reported in some primary tumours. More generally, the results establish reduced representation bisulphite sequencing as a powerful technology for epigenetic profiling of cell populations relevant to developmental biology, cancer and regenerative medicine.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nature07107
View details for Web of Science ID 000258228000045
View details for PubMedID 18600261
A drug-inducible transgenic system for direct reprogramming of multiple somatic cell types
2008; 26 (8): 916-924
The study of induced pluripotency is complicated by the need for infection with high-titer retroviral vectors, which results in genetically heterogeneous cell populations. We generated genetically homogeneous 'secondary' somatic cells that carry the reprogramming factors as defined doxycycline (dox)-inducible transgenes. These cells were produced by infecting fibroblasts with dox-inducible lentiviruses, reprogramming by dox addition, selecting induced pluripotent stem cells and producing chimeric mice. Cells derived from these chimeras reprogram upon dox exposure without the need for viral infection with efficiencies 25- to 50-fold greater than those observed using direct infection and drug selection for pluripotency marker reactivation. We demonstrate that (i) various induction levels of the reprogramming factors can induce pluripotency, (ii) the duration of transgene activity directly correlates with reprogramming efficiency, (iii) cells from many somatic tissues can be reprogrammed and (iv) different cell types require different induction levels. This system facilitates the characterization of reprogramming and provides a tool for genetic or chemical screens to enhance reprogramming.
View details for Web of Science ID 000258325500026
View details for PubMedID 18594521
Dissecting direct reprogramming through integrative genomic analysis
2008; 454 (7200): 49-U1
Somatic cells can be reprogrammed to a pluripotent state through the ectopic expression of defined transcription factors. Understanding the mechanism and kinetics of this transformation may shed light on the nature of developmental potency and suggest strategies with improved efficiency or safety. Here we report an integrative genomic analysis of reprogramming of mouse fibroblasts and B lymphocytes. Lineage-committed cells show a complex response to the ectopic expression involving induction of genes downstream of individual reprogramming factors. Fully reprogrammed cells show gene expression and epigenetic states that are highly similar to embryonic stem cells. In contrast, stable partially reprogrammed cell lines show reactivation of a distinctive subset of stem-cell-related genes, incomplete repression of lineage-specifying transcription factors, and DNA hypermethylation at pluripotency-related loci. These observations suggest that some cells may become trapped in partially reprogrammed states owing to incomplete repression of transcription factors, and that DNA de-methylation is an inefficient step in the transition to pluripotency. We demonstrate that RNA inhibition of transcription factors can facilitate reprogramming, and that treatment with DNA methyltransferase inhibitors can improve the overall efficiency of the reprogramming process.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nature07056
View details for Web of Science ID 000257308300033
View details for PubMedID 18509334
Direct reprogramming of terminally differentiated mature B lymphocytes to pluripotency
2008; 133 (2): 250-264
Pluripotent cells can be derived from fibroblasts by ectopic expression of defined transcription factors. A fundamental unresolved question is whether terminally differentiated cells can be reprogrammed to pluripotency. We utilized transgenic and inducible expression of four transcription factors (Oct4, Sox2, Klf4, and c-Myc) to reprogram mouse B lymphocytes. These factors were sufficient to convert nonterminally differentiated B cells to a pluripotent state. However, reprogramming of mature B cells required additional interruption with the transcriptional state maintaining B cell identity by either ectopic expression of the myeloid transcription factor CCAAT/enhancer-binding-protein-alpha (C/EBPalpha) or specific knockdown of the B cell transcription factor Pax5. Multiple iPS lines were clonally derived from both nonfully and fully differentiated B lymphocytes, which gave rise to adult chimeras with germline contribution, and to late-term embryos when injected into tetraploid blastocysts. Our study provides definite proof for the direct nuclear reprogramming of terminally differentiated adult cells to pluripotency.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cell.2008.03.028
View details for Web of Science ID 000255052000015
View details for PubMedID 18423197
Neurons derived from reprogrammed fibroblasts functionally integrate into the fetal brain and improve symptoms of rats with Parkinson's disease
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
2008; 105 (15): 5856-5861
The long-term goal of nuclear transfer or alternative reprogramming approaches is to create patient-specific donor cells for transplantation therapy, avoiding immunorejection, a major complication in current transplantation medicine. It was recently shown that the four transcription factors Oct4, Sox2, Klf4, and c-Myc induce pluripotency in mouse fibroblasts. However, the therapeutic potential of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells for neural cell replacement strategies remained unexplored. Here, we show that iPS cells can be efficiently differentiated into neural precursor cells, giving rise to neuronal and glial cell types in culture. Upon transplantation into the fetal mouse brain, the cells migrate into various brain regions and differentiate into glia and neurons, including glutamatergic, GABAergic, and catecholaminergic subtypes. Electrophysiological recordings and morphological analysis demonstrated that the grafted neurons had mature neuronal activity and were functionally integrated in the host brain. Furthermore, iPS cells were induced to differentiate into dopamine neurons of midbrain character and were able to improve behavior in a rat model of Parkinson's disease upon transplantation into the adult brain. We minimized the risk of tumor formation from the grafted cells by separating contaminating pluripotent cells and committed neural cells using fluorescence-activated cell sorting. Our results demonstrate the therapeutic potential of directly reprogrammed fibroblasts for neuronal cell replacement in the animal model.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0801677105
View details for Web of Science ID 000255237200038
View details for PubMedID 18391196
Sequential expression of pluripotency markers during direct reprogramming of mouse somatic cells
CELL STEM CELL
2008; 2 (2): 151-159
Pluripotency can be induced in differentiated murine and human cells by retroviral transduction of Oct4, Sox2, Klf4, and c-Myc. We have devised a reprogramming strategy in which these four transcription factors are expressed from doxycycline (dox)-inducible lentiviral vectors. Using these inducible constructs, we derived induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells from mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) and found that transgene silencing is a prerequisite for normal cell differentiation. We have analyzed the timing of known pluripotency marker activation during mouse iPS cell derivation and observed that alkaline phosphatase (AP) was activated first, followed by stage-specific embryonic antigen 1 (SSEA1). Expression of Nanog and the endogenous Oct4 gene, marking fully reprogrammed cells, was only observed late in the process. Importantly, the virally transduced cDNAs needed to be expressed for at least 12 days in order to generate iPS cells. Our results are a step toward understanding some of the molecular events governing epigenetic reprogramming.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.stem.2008.01.004
View details for Web of Science ID 000253301900010
View details for PubMedID 18371436
- c-Myc is dispensable for direct reprogramming of mouse fibroblasts CELL STEM CELL 2008; 2 (1): 10-12
Treatment of sickle cell anemia mouse model with iPS cells generated from autologous skin
2007; 318 (5858): 1920-1923
It has recently been demonstrated that mouse and human fibroblasts can be reprogrammed into an embryonic stem cell-like state by introducing combinations of four transcription factors. However, the therapeutic potential of such induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells remained undefined. By using a humanized sickle cell anemia mouse model, we show that mice can be rescued after transplantation with hematopoietic progenitors obtained in vitro from autologous iPS cells. This was achieved after correction of the human sickle hemoglobin allele by gene-specific targeting. Our results provide proof of principle for using transcription factor-induced reprogramming combined with gene and cell therapy for disease treatment in mice. The problems associated with using retroviruses and oncogenes for reprogramming need to be resolved before iPS cells can be considered for human therapy.
View details for DOI 10.1126/science.1152092
View details for Web of Science ID 000251786600058
View details for PubMedID 18063756
Direct reprogramming of genetically unmodified fibroblasts into pluripotent stem cells
2007; 25 (10): 1177-1181
In vitro reprogramming of somatic cells into a pluripotent embryonic stem cell-like state has been achieved through retroviral transduction of murine fibroblasts with Oct4, Sox2, c-myc and Klf4. In these experiments, the rare 'induced pluripotent stem' (iPS) cells were isolated by stringent selection for activation of a neomycin-resistance gene inserted into the endogenous Oct4 (also known as Pou5f1) or Nanog loci. Direct isolation of pluripotent cells from cultured somatic cells is of potential therapeutic interest, but translation to human systems would be hindered by the requirement for transgenic donors in the present iPS isolation protocol. Here we demonstrate that reprogrammed pluripotent cells can be isolated from genetically unmodified somatic donor cells solely based upon morphological criteria.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nbt1335
View details for Web of Science ID 000250226600030
View details for PubMedID 17724450
Genome-wide maps of chromatin state in pluripotent and lineage-committed cells
2007; 448 (7153): 553-U2
We report the application of single-molecule-based sequencing technology for high-throughput profiling of histone modifications in mammalian cells. By obtaining over four billion bases of sequence from chromatin immunoprecipitated DNA, we generated genome-wide chromatin-state maps of mouse embryonic stem cells, neural progenitor cells and embryonic fibroblasts. We find that lysine 4 and lysine 27 trimethylation effectively discriminates genes that are expressed, poised for expression, or stably repressed, and therefore reflect cell state and lineage potential. Lysine 36 trimethylation marks primary coding and non-coding transcripts, facilitating gene annotation. Trimethylation of lysine 9 and lysine 20 is detected at satellite, telomeric and active long-terminal repeats, and can spread into proximal unique sequences. Lysine 4 and lysine 9 trimethylation marks imprinting control regions. Finally, we show that chromatin state can be read in an allele-specific manner by using single nucleotide polymorphisms. This study provides a framework for the application of comprehensive chromatin profiling towards characterization of diverse mammalian cell populations.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nature06008
View details for Web of Science ID 000248446700035
View details for PubMedID 17603471
In vitro reprogramming of fibroblasts into a pluripotent ES-cell-like state
2007; 448 (7151): 318-U2
Nuclear transplantation can reprogramme a somatic genome back into an embryonic epigenetic state, and the reprogrammed nucleus can create a cloned animal or produce pluripotent embryonic stem cells. One potential use of the nuclear cloning approach is the derivation of 'customized' embryonic stem (ES) cells for patient-specific cell treatment, but technical and ethical considerations impede the therapeutic application of this technology. Reprogramming of fibroblasts to a pluripotent state can be induced in vitro through ectopic expression of the four transcription factors Oct4 (also called Oct3/4 or Pou5f1), Sox2, c-Myc and Klf4. Here we show that DNA methylation, gene expression and chromatin state of such induced reprogrammed stem cells are similar to those of ES cells. Notably, the cells-derived from mouse fibroblasts-can form viable chimaeras, can contribute to the germ line and can generate live late-term embryos when injected into tetraploid blastocysts. Our results show that the biological potency and epigenetic state of in-vitro-reprogrammed induced pluripotent stem cells are indistinguishable from those of ES cells.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nature05944
View details for Web of Science ID 000248118300050
View details for PubMedID 17554336
Polycomb complexes repress developmental regulators in murine embryonic stem cells
2006; 441 (7091): 349-353
The mechanisms by which embryonic stem (ES) cells self-renew while maintaining the ability to differentiate into virtually all adult cell types are not well understood. Polycomb group (PcG) proteins are transcriptional repressors that help to maintain cellular identity during metazoan development by epigenetic modification of chromatin structure. PcG proteins have essential roles in early embryonic development and have been implicated in ES cell pluripotency, but few of their target genes are known in mammals. Here we show that PcG proteins directly repress a large cohort of developmental regulators in murine ES cells, the expression of which would otherwise promote differentiation. Using genome-wide location analysis in murine ES cells, we found that the Polycomb repressive complexes PRC1 and PRC2 co-occupied 512 genes, many of which encode transcription factors with important roles in development. All of the co-occupied genes contained modified nucleosomes (trimethylated Lys 27 on histone H3). Consistent with a causal role in gene silencing in ES cells, PcG target genes were de-repressed in cells deficient for the PRC2 component Eed, and were preferentially activated on induction of differentiation. Our results indicate that dynamic repression of developmental pathways by Polycomb complexes may be required for maintaining ES cell pluripotency and plasticity during embryonic development.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nature04733
View details for Web of Science ID 000237593200048
View details for PubMedID 16625203
A bivalent chromatin structure marks key developmental genes in embryonic stem cells
2006; 125 (2): 315-326
The most highly conserved noncoding elements (HCNEs) in mammalian genomes cluster within regions enriched for genes encoding developmentally important transcription factors (TFs). This suggests that HCNE-rich regions may contain key regulatory controls involved in development. We explored this by examining histone methylation in mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells across 56 large HCNE-rich loci. We identified a specific modification pattern, termed "bivalent domains," consisting of large regions of H3 lysine 27 methylation harboring smaller regions of H3 lysine 4 methylation. Bivalent domains tend to coincide with TF genes expressed at low levels. We propose that bivalent domains silence developmental genes in ES cells while keeping them poised for activation. We also found striking correspondences between genome sequence and histone methylation in ES cells, which become notably weaker in differentiated cells. These results highlight the importance of DNA sequence in defining the initial epigenetic landscape and suggest a novel chromatin-based mechanism for maintaining pluripotency.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cell.2006.02.041
View details for Web of Science ID 000237241500021
View details for PubMedID 16630819
The vast majority of bone-marrow-derived cells integrated into mdx muscle fibers are silent despite long-term engraftment
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
2005; 102 (33): 11852-11857
Bone-marrow-derived cells can contribute nuclei to skeletal muscle fibers. However, serial sectioning of muscle in mdx mice implanted with GFP-labeled bone marrow reveals that only 20% of the donor nuclei chronically incorporated in muscle fibers show dystrophin (or GFP) expression, which is still higher than the expected frequency of "revertant" fibers, but there is no overall increase above controls over time. Obviously, the vast majority of incorporated nuclei either never or only temporarily turn on myogenic genes; also, incorporated nuclei eventually loose the activation of the beta-actin::GFP transgene. Consequently, we attempted to enhance the expression of dystrophin. In vivo application of the chromatin-modifying agents 5-azadeoxycytidine and phenylbutyrate as well as local damage by cardiotoxin injections caused a small increase in dystrophin-positive fibers without abolishing the appearance of "silent" nuclei. The results thus confirm that endogenous repair processes and epigenetic modifications on a small-scale lead to dystrophin expression from donor nuclei. Both effects, however, remain below functionally significant levels.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0502507102
View details for Web of Science ID 000231317000051
View details for PubMedID 16085712
Functional integration of transplanted ES cell-derived neurons
View details for Web of Science ID 000231307500026
Functional integration of embryonic stem cell-derived neurons in vivo
JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE
2004; 24 (22): 5258-5268
Pluripotency and the potential for continuous self-renewal make embryonic stem (ES) cells an attractive donor source for neuronal cell replacement. Despite recent encouraging results in this field, little is known about the functional integration of transplanted ES cell-derived neurons on the single-cell level. To address this issue, ES cell-derived neural precursors exhibiting neuron-specific enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) expression were introduced into the developing brain. Donor cells implanted into the cerebral ventricles of embryonic rats migrated as single cells into a variety of brain regions, where they acquired complex morphologies and adopted excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitter phenotypes. Synaptic integration was suggested by the expression of PSD-95 (postsynaptic density-95) on donor cell dendrites, which in turn were approached by multiple synaptophysin-positive host axon terminals. Ultrastructural and electrophysiological data confirmed the formation of synapses between host and donor cells. Ten to 21 d after birth, all EGFP-positive donor cells examined displayed active membrane properties and received glutamatergic and GABAergic synaptic input from host neurons. These data demonstrate that, at the single-cell level, grafted ES cell-derived neurons undergo morphological and functional integration into the host brain circuitry. Antibodies to the region-specific transcription factors Bf1, Dlx, En1, and Pax6 were used to explore whether functional donor cell integration depends on the acquisition of a regional phenotype. Our data show that incorporated neurons frequently exhibit a lacking or ectopic expression of these transcription factors. Thus, the lack of an appropriate regional "code" does not preclude morphological and synaptic integration of ES cell-derived neurons.
View details for DOI 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0428-04.200
View details for Web of Science ID 000221883100020
View details for PubMedID 15175396
Functional integration of embryonic stem cell-derived neurons in hippocampal slice cultures
JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE
2003; 23 (18): 7075-7083
The generation of neurons and glia from pluripotent embryonic stem (ES) cells represents a promising strategy for the study of CNS development and repair. ES cell-derived neural precursors have been shown to develop into morphologically mature neurons and glia when grafted into brain and spinal cord. However, there is a surprising shortage of data concerning the functional integration of ES cell-derived neurons (ESNs) into the host CNS tissue. Here, we use ES cells engineered to express enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) only in neuronal progeny to study the functional properties of ESNs during integration into long-term hippocampal slice cultures. After incorporation into the dentate gyrus, EGFP+ donor neurons display a gradual maturation of their intrinsic discharge behavior and a concomitant increase in the density of voltage-gated Na+ and K+ channels. Integrated ESNs express AMPA and GABA(A) receptor subunits. Most importantly, neurons derived from ES cells receive functional glutamatergic and GABAergic synapses from host neurons. Specifically, we demonstrate that host perforant path axons form synapses onto integrated ESNs. These synapses between host and ES cell-derived neurons display pronounced paired-pulse facilitation indicative of intact presynaptic short-term plasticity. Thus, ES cell-derived neural precursors generate functionally active neurons capable of integrating into the brain circuitry.
View details for Web of Science ID 000184587100012
View details for PubMedID 12904468
Migration and differentiation of myogenic precursors following transplantation into the developing rat brain
2003; 21 (2): 181-189
There is increasing evidence that muscle-derived precursor cells can, under appropriate conditions, give rise to other than myogenic cell types. Transplantation into the embryonic ventricular zone provides a unique opportunity to study the migration and differentiation of non-neural somatic progenitor cells in response to instructive cues within the developing neuroepithelium. Here, we demonstrate that myogenic cell lines grafted into the ventricles of rat embryos showed widespread migration into several host brain compartments. In contrast to incorporation patterns observed after transplantation of neural cells, grafted myoblasts incorporated virtually exclusively along endogenous blood vessels. Preferential incorporation sites included cortex, olfactory bulb, hippocampus, striatum, thalamus, hypothalamus, and tectum. While the engrafted myoblasts showed no evidence of neural differentiation, a fraction exhibited pronounced coexpression of endothelial marker antigens. These findings support the concept of a close developmental relationship between the myogenic and the endothelial lineages. Used as a delivery system, transfected myoblasts may be exploited for widespread gene transfer to the perivascular compartment of the perinatal central nervous system.
View details for Web of Science ID 000181601300007
View details for PubMedID 12634414
Tau EGFP embryonic stem cells: An efficient tool for neuronal lineage selection and transplantation
JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE RESEARCH
2002; 69 (6): 918-924
Pluripotency and the capacity for continuous self-renewal make embryonic stem (ES) cells an attractive donor source for cell-replacement strategies. A key prerequisite for a therapeutic application of ES cells is the generation of defined somatic cell populations. Here we demonstrate that a targeted insertion of the EGFP gene into the tau locus permits efficient fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS)-based lineage selection of ES cell-derived neurons. After in vitro differentiation of heterozygous tau EGFP ES cells into multipotent neural precursors, EGFP is selectively induced in postmitotic neurons of various neurotransmitter phenotypes. By using FACS, ES cell-derived neurons can be enriched to purities of more than 90%. Because neuron-specific EGFP fluorescence is also observed upon transplantation of ES cell-derived neural precursors, the tau EGFP mutant represents a useful tool for the in vivo analysis of grafted ES cell-derived neurons.
View details for DOI 10.1002/jnr.10395
View details for Web of Science ID 000177792600024
View details for PubMedID 12205684
Fifty ways to make a neuron: Shifts in stem cell hierarchy and their implications for neuropathology and CNS repair
JOURNAL OF NEUROPATHOLOGY AND EXPERIMENTAL NEUROLOGY
2002; 61 (2): 101-110
During embryogenesis, the developmental potential of individual cells is continuously restricted. While embryonic stem (ES) cells derived from the inner cell mass of the blastocyst can give rise to all tissues and cell types, their progeny segregates into a multitude of tissue-specific stem and progenitor cells. Following organogenesis, a pool of resident "adult" stem cells is maintained in many tissues. In this hierarchical concept, transition through defined intermediate stages of decreasing potentiality is regarded as prerequisite for the generation of a somatic cell type. Several recent findings have challenged this view. First, adult stem cells have been shown to adopt properties of pluripotent cells and contribute cells to a variety of tissues. Second, a direct transition from a pluripotent ES cell to a defined somatic phenotype has been postulated for the neural lineage. Finally, nuclear transplantation has revealed that the transcriptional machinery associated with a distinct somatic cell fate can be reprogrammed to totipotency. The possibility to bypass developmental hierarchies in stem cell differentiation opens new avenues for the study of nervous system development, disease, and repair.
View details for Web of Science ID 000173768100001
View details for PubMedID 11853015
In vitro differentiation of transplantable neural precursors from human embryonic stem cells
2001; 19 (12): 1129-1133
The remarkable developmental potential and replicative capacity of human embryonic stem (ES) cells promise an almost unlimited supply of specific cell types for transplantation therapies. Here we describe the in vitro differentiation, enrichment, and transplantation of neural precursor cells from human ES cells. Upon aggregation to embryoid bodies, differentiating ES cells formed large numbers of neural tube-like structures in the presence of fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF-2). Neural precursors within these formations were isolated by selective enzymatic digestion and further purified on the basis of differential adhesion. Following withdrawal of FGF-2, they differentiated into neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes. After transplantation into the neonatal mouse brain, human ES cell-derived neural precursors were incorporated into a variety of brain regions, where they differentiated into both neurons and astrocytes. No teratoma formation was observed in the transplant recipients. These results depict human ES cells as a source of transplantable neural precursors for possible nervous system repair.
View details for Web of Science ID 000172524400025
View details for PubMedID 11731781
A mouse model for valproate teratogenicity: parental effects, homeotic transformations, and altered HOX expression
HUMAN MOLECULAR GENETICS
2000; 9 (2): 227-236
Valproate (VPA) is one of several effective anti-epileptic and mood-stabilizing drugs, many of which are also potent teratogens in humans and several other mammalian species. Variable teratogenicity among inbred strains of laboratory mice suggests that genetic factors influence susceptibility. While studying the genetic basis for VPA teratogenicity in mice, we discovered that parental factors influence fetal susceptibility to induced malformations. Detailed examination of these malformations revealed that many were homeotic transformations. To test whether VPA, like retinoic acid (RA), alters HOX expression, pluripotent human embryonal carcinoma cells were treated with VPA or RA and Hox expression assessed. Altered expression of specific Hox genes may thus account for the homeotic transformations and other malformations found in VPA-treated fetuses.
View details for Web of Science ID 000084976500009
View details for PubMedID 10607833