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Concept: Stem cell marker


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


Human multipotent skin derived precursor cells (SKPs) are traditionally sourced from dissociated dermal tissues; therefore, donor availability may become limiting. Here we demonstrate that both normal and diseased adult human dermal fibroblasts (DF) pre-cultured in conventional monolayers are capable of forming SKPs (termed m-SKPs). Moreover, we show that these m-SKPs can be passaged and that cryopreservation of original fibroblast monolayer cultures does not reduce m-SKP yield; however, extensive monolayer passaging does. Like SKPs generated from dissociated dermis, these m-SKPs expressed nestin, fibronectin and versican at the protein level. At the transcriptional level, m-SKPs derived from normal adult human DF, expressed neural crest stem cell markers such as p75NTR, embryonic stem cell markers such as Nanog and the mesenchymal stem cell marker Dermo-1. Furthermore, appropriate stimuli induced m-SKPs to differentiate down either mesenchymal or neural lineages resulting in lipid accumulation, calcification and S100β or β-III tubulin expression (with multiple processes). m-SKP yield was greater from neonatal foreskin cultures compared to those from adult DF cultures; however, the former showed a greater decrease in m-SKP forming capacity after extensive monolayer passaging. m-SKP yield was greater from adult DF cultures expressing more alpha-smooth muscle actin (αSMA). In turn, elevated αSMA expression correlated with cells originating from specimens isolated from biopsies containing more terminal hair follicles; however, αSMA expression was lost upon m-SKP formation. Others have shown that dissociated human hair follicle dermal papilla (DP) are a highly enriched source of SKPs. However, conversely and unexpectedly, monolayer cultured human hair follicle DP cells failed to form m-SKPs whereas those from the murine vibrissae follicles did. Collectively, these findings reveal the potential for using expanded DF cultures to produce SKPs, the heterogeneity of SKP forming potential of skin from distinct anatomical locations and ages, and question the progenitor status of human hair follicle DP cells.

Concepts: Protein, Stem cell, Stem cells, Embryonic stem cell, Skin, Hair, Hair follicle, Stem cell marker


Host stem/progenitor cells can be mobilized and recruited to a target location using biomaterials, and these cells may be used for in situ tissue regeneration. The objective of this study was to investigate whether host biologic resources could be used to regenerate renal tissue in situ. Collagen hydrogel was injected into the kidneys of normal mice, and rat kidneys that had sustained ischemia/reperfusion injury. After injection, the kidneys of both animal models were examined up to 4 weeks for host tissue response. The infiltrating host cells present within the injection regions expressed renal stem/progenitor cell markers, PAX-2, CD24, and CD133, as well as mesenchymal stem cell marker, CD44. The regenerated renal structures were identified by immunohistochemistry for renal cell specific markers, including synaptopodin and CD31 for glomeruli and cytokeratin and neprilysin for tubules. Quantitatively, the number of glomeruli found in the injected regions was significantly higher when compared to normal regions of renal cortex. This phenomenon occurred in normal and ischemic injured kidneys. Furthermore, the renal function after ischemia/reperfusion injury was recovered after collagen hydrogel injection. These results demonstrate that introduction of biomaterials into the kidney is able to facilitate the regeneration of glomerular and tubular structures in normal and injured kidneys. Such an approach has the potential to become a simple and effective treatment for patients with renal failure. Stem Cells Translational Medicine 2018;7:241-250.

Concepts: Renal failure, Kidney, Nephrology, Stem cell, Mesenchymal stem cell, Stem cells, Cellular differentiation, Stem cell marker


Hypoxia-inducible factors enhance glioma stemness, and glioma stem cells have an amplified hypoxic response despite residing within a perivascular niche. Still, little is known about differential HIF regulation in stem versus bulk glioma cells. We show that the intracellular domain of stem cell marker CD44 (CD44ICD) is released at hypoxia, binds HIF-2α (but not HIF-1α), enhances HIF target gene activation, and is required for hypoxia-induced stemness in glioma. In a glioma mouse model, CD44 was restricted to hypoxic and perivascular tumor regions, and in human glioma, a hypoxia signature correlated with CD44. The CD44ICD was sufficient to induce hypoxic signaling at perivascular oxygen tensions, and blocking CD44 cleavage decreased HIF-2α stabilization in CD44-expressing cells. Our data indicate that the stem cell marker CD44 modulates the hypoxic response of glioma cells and that the pseudo-hypoxic phenotype of stem-like glioma cells is achieved by stabilization of HIF-2α through interaction with CD44, independently of oxygen.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Cell, Developmental biology, Cell division, Stem cell, Cell biology, Stem cell marker


Injection of amniotic fluid stem cells (AFSC) delays the course of progression of renal fibrosis in animals with Alport Syndrome, enhancing kidney function and improving survival. The mechanisms responsible for these protective outcomes are still largely unknown. Here, we showed that vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) signaling within the glomeruli of Alport mice is strongly elevated early on in the disease, causing glomerular endothelial cell damage. Intraventricular injected AFSC that homed within the glomeruli showed strong modulation of the VEGF activity, particularly in glomerular endothelial cells. To investigate this phenomenon we hypothesized that extracellular vesicles (EVs) produced by the AFSC could be responsible for the observed renoprotection. AFSC derived EVs presented exosomal and stem cell markers on their surface membrane, including VEGFR1 and VEGFR2. EVs were able to modulate VEGF in glomerular endothelial cells by effectively trapping the excess VEGF through VEGFR1-binding preventing cellular damage. In contrast, VEGFR1/sVEGFR1 knockout EVs failed to show similar protection, thus indicating that VEGF trapping is a potentially viable mechanism for AFSC-EV mediated renoprotection. Taken together, our findings establish that EVs secreted by AFSC could target a specific signaling pathway within the glomerulus, thus representing a new potential glomerulus-specific targeted intervention.

Concepts: Kidney, Cell, Angiogenesis, Cell membrane, Stem cell, Cell biology, Glomerulus, Stem cell marker


Teeth and denticles belong to a specialized class of mineralizing epithelial appendages called odontodes. Although homology of oral teeth in jawed vertebrates is well supported, the evolutionary origin of teeth and their relationship with other odontode types is less clear. We compared the cellular and molecular mechanisms directing development of teeth and skin denticles in sharks, where both odontode types are retained. We show that teeth and denticles are deeply homologous developmental modules with equivalent underlying odontode gene regulatory networks (GRNs). Notably, the expression of the epithelial progenitor and stem cell marker sex-determining region Y-related box 2 (sox2) was tooth-specific and this correlates with notable differences in odontode regenerative ability. Whereas shark teeth retain the ancestral gnathostome character of continuous successional regeneration, new denticles arise only asynchronously with growth or after wounding. Sox2+ putative stem cells associated with the shark dental lamina (DL) emerge from a field of epithelial progenitors shared with anteriormost taste buds, before establishing within slow-cycling cell niches at the (i) superficial taste/tooth junction (T/TJ), and (ii) deep successional lamina (SL) where tooth regeneration initiates. Furthermore, during regeneration, cells from the superficial T/TJ migrate into the SL and contribute to new teeth, demonstrating persistent contribution of taste-associated progenitors to tooth regeneration in vivo. This data suggests a trajectory for tooth evolution involving cooption of the odontode GRN from nonregenerating denticles by sox2+ progenitors native to the oral taste epithelium, facilitating the evolution of a novel regenerative module of odontodes in the mouth of early jawed vertebrates: the teeth.

Concepts: DNA, Genetics, Evolution, Developmental biology, Stem cell, Teeth, Stem cell marker, Animal anatomy


Perivascular regions of the brain harbor multipotent stem cells. We previously demonstrated that brain pericytes near blood vessels also develop multipotency following experimental ischemia in mice, and that these ischemia-induced multipotent stem cells (iSCs) can contribute to neurogenesis. However, it is essential to understand the traits of iSCs in the post-stroke human brain for possible applications in stem cell-based therapies for stroke patients. Here we report for the first time that iSCs can be isolated from the post-stroke human brain. Putative iSCs were derived from post-stroke brain tissue obtained from elderly stroke patients requiring decompressive craniectomy and partial lobectomy for diffuse cerebral infarction. Immunohistochemistry showed that these iSCs were localized near blood vessels within post-stroke areas containing apoptotic/necrotic neurons and expressed both the stem cell marker nestin and several pericytic markers. Isolated iSCs expressed these same markers and demonstrated high proliferative potential without loss of stemness. Furthermore, isolated iSCs expressed other stem cell markers, such as Sox2, c-myc, and Klf4, and differentiated into multiple cells in vitro, including neurons. These results show that iSCs, which are likely brain pericyte derivatives, are present within the post-stroke human brain. This study suggests that iSCs can contribute to neural repair in patients with stroke.

Concepts: Nervous system, Neuron, Brain, Stem cell, Stem cells, Traumatic brain injury, Cerebellum, Stem cell marker


Proliferation of the self-renewing epithelium of the gastric corpus occurs almost exclusively in the isthmus of the glands, from where cells migrate bidirectionally toward pit and base. The isthmus is therefore generally viewed as the stem cell zone. We find that the stem cell marker Troy is expressed at the gland base by a small subpopulation of fully differentiated chief cells. By lineage tracing with a Troy-eGFP-ires-CreERT2 allele, single marked chief cells are shown to generate entirely labeled gastric units over periods of months. This phenomenon accelerates upon tissue damage. Troy(+) chief cells can be cultured to generate long-lived gastric organoids. Troy marks a specific subset of chief cells that display plasticity in that they are capable of replenishing entire gastric units, essentially serving as quiescent “reserve” stem cells. These observations challenge the notion that stem cell hierarchies represent a “one-way street.”

Concepts: Gene, Cell division, Stem cell, Secretion, Epithelium, Cellular differentiation, Stomach, Stem cell marker


The concept that tumors are maintained by dedicated stem cells, the so-called cancer stem cell hypothesis, has attracted great interest but remains controversial. Studying mouse models, we provide direct, functional evidence for the presence of stem cell activity within primary intestinal adenomas, a precursor to intestinal cancer. By “lineage retracing” using the multicolor Cre-reporter R26R-Confetti, we demonstrate that the crypt stem cell marker Lgr5 (leucine-rich repeat-containing heterotrimeric guanine nucleotide-binding protein-coupled receptor 5) also marks a subpopulation of adenoma cells that fuel the growth of established intestinal adenomas. These Lgr5(+) cells, which represent about 5 to 10% of the cells in the adenomas, generate additional Lgr5(+) cells as well as all other adenoma cell types. The Lgr5(+) cells are intermingled with Paneth cells near the adenoma base, a pattern reminiscent of the architecture of the normal crypt niche.

Concepts: Cell, Oncology, Cell division, Stem cell, Stem cells, Cell biology, Stem cell marker, Cancer stem cell


A technology that visualizes tumor stem cells with clinically relevant tracers could have a broad impact on cancer diagnosis and treatment. The AC133 epitope of CD133 currently is one of the best-characterized tumor stem cell markers for many intra- and extracranial tumor entities. Here we demonstrate the successful noninvasive detection of AC133(+) tumor stem cells by PET and near-infrared fluorescence molecular tomography in subcutaneous and orthotopic glioma xenografts using antibody-based tracers. Particularly, microPET with (64)Cu-NOTA-AC133 mAb yielded high-quality images with outstanding tumor-to-background contrast, clearly delineating subcutaneous tumor stem cell-derived xenografts from surrounding tissues. Intracerebral tumors as small as 2-3 mm also were clearly discernible, and the microPET images reflected the invasive growth pattern of orthotopic cancer stem cell-derived tumors with low density of AC133(+) cells. These data provide a basis for further preclinical and clinical use of the developed tracers for high-sensitivity and high-resolution monitoring of AC133(+) tumor stem cells.

Concepts: Oncology, Cell division, Stem cell, Stem cells, Positron emission tomography, Brain tumor, Stem cell marker, Cancer stem cell