Evaluating the potential of poly(beta-amino ester) nanoparticles for reprogramming human fibroblasts to become induced pluripotent stem cells
Nupura S Bhise,1,* Karl J Wahlin,2,* Donald J Zack,2–4 Jordan J Green1,2
1Department of Biomedical Engineering, Translational Tissue Engineering Center, and Institute for Nanobiotechnology, 2Department of Ophthalmology, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, 3Solomon H Snyder Department of Neuroscience, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, and Institute of Genetic Medicine, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA; 4Institut de la Vision, Paris, France
*These authors contributed equally to this work
Background: Gene delivery can potentially be used as a therapeutic for treating genetic diseases, including neurodegenerative diseases, as well as an enabling technology for regenerative medicine. A central challenge in many gene delivery applications is having a safe and effective delivery method. We evaluated the use of a biodegradable poly(beta-amino ester) nanoparticle-based nonviral protocol and compared this with an electroporation-based approach to deliver episomal plasmids encoding reprogramming factors for generation of human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) from human fibroblasts.
Methods: A polymer library was screened to identify the polymers most promising for gene delivery to human fibroblasts. Feeder-independent culturing protocols were developed for nanoparticle-based and electroporation-based reprogramming. The cells reprogrammed by both polymeric nanoparticle-based and electroporation-based nonviral methods were characterized by analysis of pluripotency markers and karyotypic stability. The hiPSC-like cells were further differentiated toward the neural lineage to test their potential for neurodegenerative retinal disease modeling.
Results: 1-(3-aminopropyl)-4-methylpiperazine end-terminated poly(1,4-butanediol diacrylate-co-4-amino-1-butanol) polymer (B4S4E7) self-assembled with plasmid DNA to form nanoparticles that were more effective than leading commercially available reagents, including Lipofectamine® 2000, FuGENE® HD, and 25 kDa branched polyethylenimine, for nonviral gene transfer. B4S4E7 nanoparticles showed effective gene delivery to IMR-90 human primary fibroblasts and to dermal fibroblasts derived from a patient with retinitis pigmentosa, and enabled coexpression of exogenously delivered genes, as is needed for reprogramming. The karyotypically normal hiPSC-like cells generated by conventional electroporation, but not by poly(beta-amino ester) reprogramming, could be differentiated toward the neuronal lineage, specifically pseudostratified optic cups.
Conclusion: This study shows that certain nonviral reprogramming methods may not necessarily be safer than viral approaches and that maximizing exogenous gene expression of reprogramming factors is not sufficient to ensure successful reprogramming.
Keywords: poly(beta-amino ester) nanoparticles, reprogramming, human fibroblasts, induced pluripotent stem cells
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