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Cell Death Discov. 2019 Jan 18;5:55. doi: 10.1038/s41420-018-0136-4. eCollection 2019.

Direct conversion of pig fibroblasts to chondrocyte-like cells by c-Myc.

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1Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Cancer Immunotherapy Research and Guangzhou Key Laboratory of Tumor Immunology Research, Cancer Research Institute, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, 510515 China.
2Institute of Comparative Medicine & Laboratory Animal Center, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, 510515 China.
3Department of Oncology, the First People's Hospital of Chenzhou, Chenzhou, 423000 China.
4Zhongshan School of Medicine, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, 510080 China.
Contributed equally


Unexpectedly, we found that c-Myc-expressing porcine embryonic fibroblasts (PEFs) subcutaneously implanted into nude mice formed cartilage-like tissues in vivo, while previous studies revealed the direct conversion of mouse and human somatic cells into chondrocytes by the combined use of several defined factors, including c-Myc, which prompted us to explore whether PEFs can be reprogrammed to become pig induced chondrocyte-like cells (piCLCs) via ectopic expression of c-Myc alone. In this study, c-Myc-expressing PEFs, designated piCLCs, which exhibited a significantly enhanced proliferation ability in vitro, displayed a chondrogenic phenotypes in vitro, as shown by the cell morphology, toluidine blue staining, alcian blue staining and chondrocyte marker gene expression. Additionally, piCLCs with a polygonal chondrocyte-like morphology were readily and efficiently converted from PEFs by enforced c-Myc expression within 10 days, while piCLCs maintained the chondrocytic phenotype and normal karyotype during long-term subculture. piCLC-derived single clones with a chondrogenic phenotype in vitro exhibited homogeneity in cell morphology and staining intensity compared with mixed piCLCs. Although the mixtures of cartilaginous tissues and tumorous tissues accounted for ~12% (6/51) of all xenografts (51), piCLCs generated stable, homogenous, hyaline cartilage-like tissues without tumour formation at 45 out of the 51 injected sites when subcutaneously injected into nude mice. The hyaline cartilage-like tissues remained for at least 16 weeks. Taken together, these findings demonstrate for the first time the direct induction of chondrocyte-like cells from PEFs with only c-Myc.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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