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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 -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 -actinin positive cardiomyocyte-like cells as the originally described substrate. These results illustrate that cellular reprogramming may be enhanced using custom-engineered materials.
author list (cited authors)
Smith, A. W., Hoyne, J. D., Nguyen, P. K., McCreedy, D. A., Aly, H., Efimov, I. R., Rentschler, S., & Elbert, D. L.