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Biomaterials. 2013 Sep;34(28):6559-71. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2013.05.050. Epub 2013 Jun 14.

Direct reprogramming of mouse fibroblasts to cardiomyocyte-like cells using Yamanaka factors on engineered poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) hydrogels.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering and Center for Materials Innovation, Washington University, Campus Box 1097, One Brookings Dr., St. Louis, MO 63130, USA.


Direct reprogramming strategies enable rapid conversion of somatic cells to cardiomyocytes or cardiomyocyte-like cells without going through the pluripotent state. A recently described protocol couples Yamanaka factor induction with pluripotency inhibition followed by BMP4 treatment to achieve rapid reprogramming of mouse fibroblasts to beating cardiomyocyte-like cells. The original study was performed using Matrigel-coated tissue culture polystyrene (TCPS), a stiff material that also non-specifically adsorbs serum proteins. Protein adsorption-resistant poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) materials can be covalently modified to present precise concentrations of adhesion proteins or peptides without the unintended effects of non-specifically adsorbed proteins. Here, we describe an improved protocol that incorporates custom-engineered materials. We first reproduced the Efe et al. protocol on Matrigel-coated TCPS (the original material), reprogramming adult mouse tail-tip mouse fibroblasts (TTF) and mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEF) to cardiomyocyte-like cells that demonstrated striated sarcomeric α-actinin staining, spontaneous calcium transients, and visible beating. We then designed poly(ethylene glycol) culture substrates to promote MEF adhesion via laminin and RGD-binding integrins. PEG hydrogels improved proliferation and reprogramming efficiency (evidenced by beating patch number and area, gene expression, and flow cytometry), yielding almost twice the number of sarcomeric α-actinin positive cardiomyocyte-like cells as the originally described substrate. These results illustrate that cellular reprogramming may be enhanced using custom-engineered materials.

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