Cardiomyocyte Marker Expression in Mouse Embryonic Fibroblasts by Cell-Free Cardiomyocyte Extract and Epigenetic Manipulation

Tahereh Talaei-Khozani, Fatemeh Heidari, Tahereh Esmaeilpour, Zahra Vojdani, Zohrah Mostafavi-Pour, Leili Rohani


Background: The regenerative capacity of the mammalian heart is quite limited. Recent reports have focused on reprogramming mesenchymal stem cells into cardiomyocytes. We investigated whether fibroblasts could transdifferentiate into myocardium.
Methods: Mouse embryonic fibroblasts were treated with Trichostatin A (TSA) and 5-Aza-2-Deoxycytidine (5-aza-dC). The treated cells were permeabilized with streptolysin O and exposed to the mouse cardiomyocyte extract and cultured for 1, 10, and 21 days. Cardiomyocyte markers were detected by immunohistochemistry. Alkaline phosphatase activity and OCT4 were also detected in cells treated by chromatin-modifying agents.
Results: The cells exposed to a combination of 5-aza-dC and TSA and permeabilized in the presence of the cardiomyocyte extract showed morphological changes. The cells were unable to express cardiomyocyte markers after 24 h. Immunocytochemical assays showed a notable degree of myosin heavy chain and α-actinin expressions after 10 days. The expression of the natriuretic factor and troponin T occurred after 21 days in these cells. The cells exposed to chromatin-modifying agents also expressed cardiomyocyte markers; however, the proportion of reprogrammed cells was clearly smaller than that in the cultures exposed to 5-aza-dC , TSA, and extract.
Conclusion: It seems that the fibroblasts were able to eliminate the previous epigenetic markers and form new ones according to the factors existing in the extract. Since no beating was observed, at least up to 21 days, the cells may need an appropriate extracellular matrix for their function.

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pISSN: 0253-0716         eISSN: 1735-3688