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Concept: Cellular differentiation


We recently discovered a novel population of stem cells from the injured murine skeletal muscle. These injury induced muscle-derived stem cell-like cells (iMuSCs) are partially reprogrammed from differentiated myogenic cells and display a pluripotent-like state. The iMuSCs exhibit stem cell properties including the ability to differentiate into multiple lineages, such as neurogenic and myogenic differentiations; they also display a superior migration capacity that demonstrating a strong ability of muscle engraftment in vivo. IMuSCs express several pluripotent and myogenic stem cell markers; have the capability to form embryoid bodies and teratomas, and can differentiate into all three germ layers. Moreover, blastocyst microinjection showed that the iMuSCs contributed to chimeric embryos but could not complete germline transmission. Our results indicate that the iMuSCs are in a partially reprogrammed state of pluripotency, which are generated by the microenvironment of injured skeletal muscle.

Concepts: Developmental biology, Cell division, Stem cell, Cell biology, Cellular differentiation, Multipotency, Pluripotency, Stem cell marker


Biological resurfacing of entire articular surfaces represents an important but challenging strategy for treatment of cartilage degeneration that occurs in osteoarthritis. Not only does this approach require anatomically sized and functional engineered cartilage, but the inflammatory environment within an arthritic joint may also inhibit chondrogenesis and induce degradation of native and engineered cartilage. The goal of this study was to use adult stem cells to engineer anatomically shaped, functional cartilage constructs capable of tunable and inducible expression of antiinflammatory molecules, specifically IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra). Large (22-mm-diameter) hemispherical scaffolds were fabricated from 3D woven poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL) fibers into two different configurations and seeded with human adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs). Doxycycline (dox)-inducible lentiviral vectors containing eGFP or IL-1Ra transgenes were immobilized to the PCL to transduce ASCs upon seeding, and constructs were cultured in chondrogenic conditions for 28 d. Constructs showed biomimetic cartilage properties and uniform tissue growth while maintaining their anatomic shape throughout culture. IL-1Ra-expressing constructs produced nearly 1 µg/mL of IL-1Ra upon controlled induction with dox. Treatment with IL-1 significantly increased matrix metalloprotease activity in the conditioned media of eGFP-expressing constructs but not in IL-1Ra-expressing constructs. Our findings show that advanced textile manufacturing combined with scaffold-mediated gene delivery can be used to tissue engineer large anatomically shaped cartilage constructs that possess controlled delivery of anticytokine therapy. Importantly, these cartilage constructs have the potential to provide mechanical functionality immediately upon implantation, as they will need to replace a majority, if not the entire joint surface to restore function.

Concepts: Biology, Extracellular matrix, Receptor, Cellular differentiation, Histology, Osteoarthritis, Engineering, Adult stem cell


Hair differentiates from follicle stem cells through progenitor cells in the matrix. In contrast to stem cells in the bulge, the identities of the progenitors and the mechanisms by which they regulate hair shaft components are poorly understood. Hair is also pigmented by melanocytes in the follicle. However, the niche that regulates follicular melanocytes is not well characterized. Here, we report the identification of hair shaft progenitors in the matrix that are differentiated from follicular epithelial cells expressing transcription factor KROX20. Depletion of Krox20 lineage cells results in arrest of hair growth, confirming the critical role of KROX20(+) cells as antecedents of structural cells found in hair. Expression of stem cell factor (SCF) by these cells is necessary for the maintenance of differentiated melanocytes and for hair pigmentation. Our findings reveal the identities of hair matrix progenitors that regulate hair growth and pigmentation, partly by creating an SCF-dependent niche for follicular melanocytes.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene expression, Developmental biology, Cell division, Stem cell, Cell biology, Cellular differentiation


Many groups, including our own, have proposed the use of DNA methylation profiles as biomarkers for various disease states. While much research has been done identifying DNA methylation signatures in cancer vs. normal etc., we still lack sufficient knowledge of the role that differential methylation plays during normal cellular differentiation and tissue specification. We also need thorough, genome level studies to determine the meaning of methylation of individual CpG dinucleotides in terms of gene expression.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Gene expression, Cancer, Organism, Cellular differentiation, DNA methylation


As with many anti-cancer drugs, the topoisomerase II inhibitor etoposide is considered safe for administration to women in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, but assessment of effects on the developing fetus have been limited. The purpose of this research was to examine the effect of etoposide on germ cells in the developing ovary. Mouse ovary tissue culture was used as the experimental model, thus allowing us to examine effects of etoposide on all stages of germ cell development in the same way, in vitro.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Embryo, Chemotherapy, Cellular differentiation, Puberty, Germ cell


Dentin-pulp complex regeneration is a promising alternative treatment for the irreversible pulpitis caused by tooth trauma or dental caries. This process mainly relies on the recruitment of endogenous or the transplanted dental pulp stem cells (DPSCs) to guide dentin-pulp tissue formation. Platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), a well-known potent mitogenic, angiogenic, and chemoattractive agent, has been widely used in tissue regeneration. However, the mechanisms underlying the therapeutic effects of PDGF on dentin-pulp complex regeneration are still unclear. In this study, we tested the effect of PDGF-BB on dentin-pulp tissue regeneration by establishing PDGF-BB gene-modified human dental pulp stem cells (hDPSCs) using a lentivirus. Our results showed that PDGF-BB can significantly enhance hDPSC proliferation and odontoblastic differentiation. Furthermore, PDGF-BB and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) secreted by hDPSCs enhanced angiogenesis. The chemoattractive effect of PDGF-BB on hDPSCs was also confirmed using a Transwell chemotactic migration model. We further determined that PDGF-BB facilitates hDPSCs migration via the activation of the phosphatidylinositol 3 kinase (PI3K)/Akt signaling pathway. In vivo, CM-DiI-labeled hDPSCs were injected subcutaneously into mice, and our results showed that more labeled cells were recruited to the sites implanted with calcium phosphate cement scaffolds containing PDGF-BB gene-modified hDPSCs. Finally, the tissue-engineered complexes were implanted subcutaneously in mice for 12 weeks, the Lenti-PDGF group generated more dentin-like mineralized tissue which showed positive staining for the DSPP protein, similar to tooth dentin tissue, and was surrounded by highly vascularized dental pulp-like connective tissue. Taken together, our data demonstrated that the PDGF-BB possesses a powerful function in prompting stem cell-based dentin-pulp tissue regeneration. Stem Cells Translational Medicine 2017.

Concepts: Angiogenesis, Growth factor, Vascular endothelial growth factor, Cellular differentiation, Teeth, Dental caries, Dentin, Platelet-derived growth factor


During development, coordinated cell behaviors orchestrate tissue and organ morphogenesis. Detailed descriptions of cell lineages and behaviors provide a powerful framework to elucidate the mechanisms of morphogenesis. To study the cellular basis of limb development, we imaged transgenic fluorescently-labeled embryos from the crustaceanParhyale hawaiensiswith multi-view light-sheet microscopy at high spatiotemporal resolution over several days of embryogenesis. The cell lineage of outgrowing thoracic limbs was reconstructed at single-cell resolution with new software called Massive Multi-view Tracker (MaMuT).In silicoclonal analyses suggested that the early limb primordium becomes subdivided into anterior-posterior and dorsal-ventral compartments whose boundaries intersect at the distal tip of the growing limb. Limb-bud formation is associated with spatial modulation of cell proliferation, while limb elongation is also driven by preferential orientation of cell divisions along the proximal-distal growth axis. Cellular reconstructions were predictive of the expression patterns of limb development genes including the BMP morphogen Decapentaplegic.

Concepts: DNA, Cell nucleus, Gene expression, Cell, Embryo, Developmental biology, Cell division, Cellular differentiation


Nonviral conversion of skin or blood cells into clinically useful human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC) occurs in only rare fractions (∼0.001%-0.5%) of donor cells transfected with non-integrating reprogramming factors. Pluripotency induction of developmentally immature stem-progenitors is generally more efficient than differentiated somatic cell targets. However, the nature of augmented progenitor reprogramming remains obscure, and its potential has not been fully explored for improving the extremely slow pace of non-integrated reprogramming. Here, we report highly optimized four-factor reprogramming of lineage-committed cord blood (CB) myeloid progenitors with bulk efficiencies of ∼50% in purified episome-expressing cells. Lineage-committed CD33(+)CD45(+)CD34(-) myeloid cells and not primitive hematopoietic stem-progenitors were the main targets of a rapid and nearly complete non-integrated reprogramming. The efficient conversion of mature myeloid populations into NANOG(+)TRA-1-81(+) hiPSC was mediated by synergies between hematopoietic growth factor (GF), stromal activation signals, and episomal Yamanaka factor expression. Using a modular bioinformatics approach, we demonstrated that efficient myeloid reprogramming correlated not to increased proliferation or endogenous Core factor expressions, but to poised expression of GF-activated transcriptional circuits that commonly regulate plasticity in both hematopoietic progenitors and embryonic stem cells (ESC). Factor-driven conversion of myeloid progenitors to a high-fidelity pluripotent state was further accelerated by soluble and contact-dependent stromal signals that included an implied and unexpected role for Toll receptor-NFκB signaling. These data provide a paradigm for understanding the augmented reprogramming capacity of somatic progenitors, and reveal that efficient induced pluripotency in other cell types may also require extrinsic activation of a molecular framework that commonly regulates self-renewal and differentiation in both hematopoietic progenitors and ESC.

Concepts: Developmental biology, Stem cell, Stem cells, Cell biology, Cellular differentiation, Embryonic stem cell, Induced pluripotent stem cell, Pluripotency


Diabetes is a chronic debilitating disease that results from insufficient production of insulin from pancreatic β-cells. Islet cell replacement can effectively treat diabetes but is currently severely limited by the reliance upon cadaveric donor tissue. We have developed a protocol to efficiently differentiate commercially available human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) in vitro into a highly enriched PDX1+ pancreatic progenitor cell population that further develops in vivo to mature pancreatic endocrine cells. Immature pancreatic precursor cells were transplanted into immunodeficient mice with streptozotocin-induced diabetes, and glycemia was initially controlled with exogenous insulin. As graft-derived insulin levels increased over time, diabetic mice were weaned from exogenous insulin and human C-peptide secretion was eventually regulated by meal and glucose challenges. Similar differentiation of pancreatic precursor cells was observed after transplant in immunodeficient rats. Throughout the in vivo maturation period hESC-derived endocrine cells exhibited gene and protein expression profiles that were remarkably similar to the developing human fetal pancreas. Our findings support the feasibility of using differentiated hESCs as an alternative to cadaveric islets for treating patients with diabetes.

Concepts: Cell, Insulin, Glucose, Stem cell, Islets of Langerhans, Pancreas, Cellular differentiation, Embryonic stem cell


A number of environmental factors (e.g. toxicants) have been shown to promote the epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of disease and phenotypic variation. Transgenerational inheritance requires the germline transmission of altered epigenetic information between generations in the absence of direct environmental exposures. The primary periods for epigenetic programming of the germ line are those associated with primordial germ cell development and subsequent fetal germline development. The current study examined the actions of an agricultural fungicide vinclozolin on gestating female (F0 generation) progeny in regards to the primordial germ cell (PGC) epigenetic reprogramming of the F3 generation (i.e. great-grandchildren). The F3 generation germline transcriptome and epigenome (DNA methylation) were altered transgenerationally. Interestingly, disruptions in DNA methylation patterns and altered transcriptomes were distinct between germ cells at the onset of gonadal sex determination at embryonic day 13 (E13) and after cord formation in the testis at embryonic day 16 (E16). A larger number of DNA methylation abnormalities (epimutations) and transcriptional alterations were observed in the E13 germ cells than in the E16 germ cells. These observations indicate that altered transgenerational epigenetic reprogramming and function of the male germline is a component of vinclozolin induced epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of disease. Insights into the molecular control of germline transmitted epigenetic inheritance are provided.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Gene expression, Histone, Epigenetics, Cellular differentiation, DNA methylation, Puberty