ssDirect reprogramming is a promising approach in regenerative medicine. Overexpression of the cardiac transcription factors Gata4, Mef2c, and Tbx5 (GMT) or GMT plus Hand2 (GHMT) directly reprogram fibroblasts into cardiomyocyte-like cells (iCMs). However, the critical timing of transgene expression and the molecular mechanisms for cardiac reprogramming remain unclear. The conventional doxycycline (Dox)-inducible temporal transgene expression systems require simultaneous transduction of two vectors (pLVX-rtTA/pLVX-cDNA) harboring the reverse tetracycline transactivator (rtTA) and the tetracycline response element (TRE)-controlled transgene, respectively, leading to inefficient cardiac reprogramming. Herein, we developed a single-construct-based polycistronic Dox-inducible vector (pDox-cDNA) expressing both the rtTA and TRE-controlled transgenes. Fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS) analyses, quantitative RT-PCR, and immunostaining revealed that pDox-GMT increased cardiac reprogramming three-fold compared to the conventional pLVX-rtTA/pLVX-GMT. After four weeks, pDox-GMT-induced iCMs expressed multiple cardiac genes, produced sarcomeric structures, and beat spontaneously. Co-transduction of pDox-Hand2 with retroviral pMX-GMT increased cardiac reprogramming three-fold compared to pMX-GMT alone. Temporal Dox administration revealed that Hand2 transgene expression is critical during the first two weeks of cardiac reprogramming. Microarray analyses demonstrated that Hand2 represses cell cycle-promoting genes and enhances cardiac reprogramming. Thus, we have developed an efficient temporal transgene expression system, which could be invaluable in the study of cardiac reprogramming.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Computer Science Applications
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry
- Inorganic Chemistry