Therapeutic transdifferentiation of human fibroblasts into endothelial cells using forced expression of lineage-specific transcription factors

Wing Tak Wong, John P. Cooke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

Transdifferentiation is the direct conversion from one somatic cell type into another desired somatic cell type. This reprogramming method offers an attractive approach for regenerative medicine. Here, we demonstrate that neonatal fibroblasts can be transdifferentiated into endothelial cells using only four endothelial transcription factors, namely, ETV2, FLI1, GATA2, and KLF4. We observed a significant up-regulation of endothelial genes including KDR, CD31, CD144, and vWF in human neonatal foreskin (BJ) fibroblasts infected with the lentiviral construct encoding the open reading frame of the four transcription factors. We observed morphological changes in BJ fibroblasts from the fibroblastic spindle shape into a more endothelial-like cobblestone structures. Fluorescence-activated cell sorting analysis revealed that ~16% of the infected cells with the lentiviral constructs encoding 4F expressed CD31. The sorted cells were allowed to expand for 2 weeks and these cells were immunostained and found to express endothelial markers CD31. The induced endothelial cells also incorporated fluorescence-labeled acetylated low-density lipoprotein and efficiently formed capillary-like networks when seeded on Matrigel. These results suggested that the induced endothelial cells were functional in vitro. Taken together, we successfully demonstrated the direct conversion of human neonatal fibroblasts into endothelial cells by transduction of lentiviral constructs encoding endothelial lineage-specific transcription factors ETV2, FLI1, GATA2, and KLF4. The directed differentiation of fibroblasts into endothelial cells may have significant utility in diseases characterized by fibrosis and loss of microvasculature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Tissue Engineering
Volume7
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 13 2016

Keywords

  • Transdifferentiation
  • regenerative medicine
  • transcription factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering

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