We have isolated a cardiomyogenic cell line (CMG) from murine bone marrow stromal cells. Stromal cells were immortalized, treated with 5- azacytidine, and spontaneously beating cells were repeatedly screened. The cells showed a fibroblast-like morphology, but the morphology changed after 5-azacytidine treatment in -30% of the cells; they connected with adjoining cells after one week, formed myotube-like structures, began spontaneously beating after two weeks, and beat synchronously after three weeks. They expressed atrial natriuretic peptide and brain natriuretic peptide and were stained with anti-myosin, anti-desmin, and anti-actinin antibodies. Electron microscopy revealed a cardiomyocyte-like ultrastructure, including typical sarcomeres, a centrally positioned nucleus, and atrial granules. These cells had several types of action potentials, such as sinus node-like and ventricular cell-like action potentials. All cells had a long action potential duration or plateau, a relatively shallow resting membrane potential, and a pacemaker-like late diastolic slow depolarization. Analysis of the isoform of contractile protein genes, such as myosin heavy chain, myosin light chain, and α-actin, indicated that their muscle phenotype was similar to that of fetal ventricular cardiomyocytes. These cells expressed Nkx2.5/Csx, GATA4, TEF-1, and MEF-2C mRNA before 5-azacytidine treatment and expressed MEF-2A and MEF-2D after treatment. This new cell line provides a powerful model for the study of cardiomyocyte differentiation.
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