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Concept: Multipotency


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


The generation of functional endodermal lineages, such as hepatocytes and pancreatic endocrine cells, from pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) remains a challenge. One strategy to enhance the purity, yield and maturity of endodermal derivatives is to expand endoderm committed stem or progenitor cell populations derived from PSCs before final differentiation. Recent studies have shown that this is in fact a viable option both for expanding pure populations of endodermal cells as well as for generating more mature derivative tissues, as highlighted in the case of pancreatic beta cells.

Concepts: Developmental biology, Stem cell, Stem cells, Cell biology, Pancreas, Progenitor cell, Multipotency, Pluripotency


Mutations in the Retinitis Pigmentosa GTPase Regulator (RPGR) cause X-linked RP (XLRP), an untreatable, inherited retinal dystrophy that leads to premature blindness. RPGR localises to the photoreceptor connecting cilium where its function remains unknown. Here we show, using murine and human induced pluripotent stem cell models, that RPGR interacts with and activates the actin-severing protein gelsolin, and that gelsolin regulates actin disassembly in the connecting cilium, thus facilitating rhodopsin transport to photoreceptor outer segments. Disease-causing RPGR mutations perturb this RPGR-gelsolin interaction, compromising gelsolin activation. Both RPGR and Gelsolin knockout mice show abnormalities of actin polymerisation and mislocalisation of rhodopsin in photoreceptors. These findings reveal a clinically-significant role for RPGR in the activation of gelsolin, without which abnormalities in actin polymerisation in the photoreceptor connecting cilia cause rhodopsin mislocalisation and eventual retinal degeneration in XLRP.Mutations in the Retinitis Pigmentosa GTPase Regulator (RPGR) cause retinal dystrophy, but how this arises at a molecular level is unclear. Here, the authors show in induced pluripotent stem cells and mouse knockouts that RPGR mediates actin dynamics in photoreceptors via the actin-severing protein, gelsolin.

Concepts: Cell, Developmental biology, Stem cell, Stem cells, Cell biology, Multipotency, Induced pluripotent stem cell, Pluripotency


Early endoderm progenitors naturally possess robust propagating potential to develop a majority of meter-long gastrointestinal tracts and are therefore considered as a promising source for therapy. Here, we demonstrated the reproducible generation of human CDX2+ posterior gut endoderm cells (PGECs) from five induced pluripotent stem cell clones by manipulating FGF, TGF, and WNT signaling. Transcriptome analysis suggested that putative PGECs harbored an intermediate signature profile between definitive endoderm and organ-specific endoderm. We found that combinatorial EGF, VEGF, FGF2, Chir99021, and A83-01 treatments selectively amplify storable PGECs up to 1021 cell scale without any gene transduction or feeder use. PGECs, compared with induced pluripotent stem cells, showed stable differentiation propensity into multiple endodermal lineages without teratoma formation. Furthermore, transplantation of PGEC-derived liver bud organoids showed therapeutic potential against fulminant liver failure. Together, the robustly amplified PGECs may be a promising cellular source for endoderm-derived organoids in studying human development, modeling disease, and, ultimately, therapy.

Concepts: Cell, Developmental biology, Stem cell, Stem cells, Cell biology, Multipotency, Induced pluripotent stem cell, Pluripotency


Recent breakthroughs in 3-dimensional (3D) organoid cultures for many organ systems have led to new physiologically complex in vitro models to study human development and disease. Here, we report the step-wise differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) (embryonic and induced) into lung organoids. By manipulating developmental signaling pathways hPSCs generate ventral-anterior foregut spheroids, which are then expanded into human lung organoids (HLOs). HLOs consist of epithelial and mesenchymal compartments of the lung, organized with structural features similar to the native lung. HLOs possess upper airway-like epithelium with basal cells and immature ciliated cells surrounded by smooth muscle and myofibroblasts as well as an alveolar-like domain with appropriate cell types. Using RNA-sequencing, we show that HLOs are remarkably similar to human fetal lung based on global transcriptional profiles, suggesting that HLOs are an excellent model to study human lung development, maturation and disease.

Concepts: Cell, Developmental biology, Stem cell, Stem cells, Cell biology, Multipotency, Induced pluripotent stem cell, Pluripotency


The reprogramming factors OCT4, SOX2, KLF4, and MYC (OSKM) can reactivate the pluripotency network in terminally differentiated cells, but also regulate expression of non-pluripotency genes in other contexts, such as the mouse primitive endoderm. The primitive endoderm is an extraembryonic lineage established in parallel to the pluripotent epiblast in the blastocyst, and is the progenitor pool for extraembryonic endoderm stem (XEN) cells. We show that OSKM induce expression of endodermal genes, leading to formation of induced XEN (iXEN) cells, which possess key properties of blastocyst-derived XEN cells, including morphology, transcription profile, self-renewal, and multipotency. Our data show that iXEN cells arise in parallel to induced pluripotent stem cells, indicating that OSKM drive cells to two distinct cell fates during reprogramming.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Gene expression, Developmental biology, Stem cell, Progenitor cell, Multipotency, Pluripotency


Takotsubo syndrome (TTS) is characterized by an acute left ventricular dysfunction and is associated with life-threating complications in the acute phase. The underlying disease mechanism in TTS is still unknown. A genetic basis has been suggested to be involved in the pathogenesis.

Concepts: Developmental biology, Stem cell, Cardiomyopathy, Cell biology, Multipotency, Induced pluripotent stem cell, Pluripotency, Takotsubo cardiomyopathy


Accurately predicting cardioactive effects of new molecular entities for therapeutics remains a daunting challenge. Immense research effort has been focused toward creating new screening platforms that utilize human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC)-derived cardiomyocytes and three-dimensional engineered cardiac tissue constructs to better recapitulate human heart function and drug responses. As these new platforms become increasingly sophisticated and high throughput, the drug screens result in larger multidimensional datasets. Improved automated analysis methods must therefore be developed in parallel to fully comprehend the cellular response across a multidimensional parameter space. Here, we describe the use of machine learning to comprehensively analyze 17 functional parameters derived from force readouts of hPSC-derived ventricular cardiac tissue strips (hvCTS) electrically paced at a range of frequencies and exposed to a library of compounds. A generated metric is effective for then determining the cardioactivity of a given drug. Furthermore, we demonstrate a classification model that can automatically predict the mechanistic action of an unknown cardioactive drug.

Concepts: Developmental biology, Stem cell, Cardiology, Heart, Cardiac muscle, Multipotency, Induced pluripotent stem cell, Pluripotency


Pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) maintain a low mutation frequency compared with somatic cell types at least in part by preferentially utilizing error-free homologous recombination (HR) for DNA repair. Many endogenous metabolites cause DNA interstrand crosslinks, which are repaired by the Fanconi anemia (FA) pathway using HR. To determine the effect of failed repair of endogenous DNA lesions on PSC biology, we generated iPSCs harboring a conditional FA pathway. Upon FA pathway loss, iPSCs maintained pluripotency but underwent profound G2 arrest and apoptosis, whereas parental fibroblasts grew normally. Mechanistic studies revealed that G2-phase FA-deficient iPSCs possess large γH2AX-RAD51 foci indicative of accrued DNA damage, which correlated with activated DNA-damage signaling through CHK1. CHK1 inhibition specifically rescued the growth of FA-deficient iPSCs for prolonged culture periods, surprisingly without stimulating excessive karyotypic abnormalities. These studies reveal that PSCs possess hyperactive CHK1 signaling that restricts their self-renewal in the absence of error-free DNA repair.

Concepts: DNA, Genetics, Developmental biology, Stem cell, Cell biology, DNA repair, Multipotency, Pluripotency


Following spinal cord injury (SCI), immune-mediated secondary processes exacerbate the extent of permanent neurological deficits. We investigated the capacity of adult bone marrow-derived stem cells, which exhibit immunomodulatory properties, to alter inflammation and promote recovery following SCI. In vitro, we show that human multipotent adult progenitor cells (MAPCs) have the ability to modulate macrophage activation, and prior exposure to MAPC secreted factors can reduce macrophage-mediated axonal dieback of dystrophic axons. Using a contusion model of SCI, we found that intravenous delivery of MAPCs one day, but not immediately, after SCI significantly improves urinary and locomotor recovery, which was associated with marked spinal cord tissue sparing. Intravenous MAPCs altered the immune response in the spinal cord and periphery, however biodistribution studies revealed that no MAPCs were found in the cord and instead preferentially homed to the spleen. Our results demonstrate that MAPCs exert their primary effects in the periphery and provide strong support for the use of these cells in acute human contusive SCI.

Concepts: Immune system, Monocyte, Stem cell, Stem cells, Cell biology, Progenitor cell, Multipotency, Pluripotency