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PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e34149. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0034149. Epub 2012 Mar 30.

Efficient iPS cell production with the MyoD transactivation domain in serum-free culture.

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Stem Cell Institute, Department of Medicine, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States of America.


A major difficulty of producing induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) has been the low efficiency of reprogramming differentiated cells into pluripotent cells. We previously showed that 5% of mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) were reprogrammed into iPSCs when they were transduced with a fusion gene composed of Oct4 and the transactivation domain of MyoD (called M(3)O), along with Sox2, Klf4 and c-Myc (SKM). In addition, M(3)O facilitated chromatin remodeling of pluripotency genes in the majority of transduced MEFs, including cells that did not become iPSCs. These observations suggested the possibility that more than 5% of cells had acquired the ability to become iPSCs given more favorable culture conditions. Here, we raised the efficiency of making mouse iPSCs with M(3)O-SKM to 26% by culturing transduced cells at low density in serum-free culture medium. In contrast, the efficiency increased from 0.1% to only 2% with the combination of wild-type Oct4 and SKM (OSKM) under the same culture condition. For human iPSCs, M(3)O-SKM achieved 7% efficiency under a similar serum-free culture condition, in comparison to 1% efficiency with OSKM. This study highlights the power of combining the transactivation domain of MyoD with a favorable culture environment.

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