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Peptide-enhanced mRNA transfection in cultured mouse cardiac fibroblasts and direct reprogramming towards cardiomyocyte-like cells

Authors Lee K, Yu P, Lingampalli N, Kim HJ, Tang R, Murthy N

Received 29 September 2014

Accepted for publication 18 November 2014

Published 6 March 2015 Volume 2015:10(1) Pages 1841—1854

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/IJN.S75124

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Thomas J Webster

Kunwoo Lee,1,2 Pengzhi Yu,3 Nithya Lingampalli,1 Hyun Jin Kim,1 Richard Tang,1 Niren Murthy1,2

1Department of Bioengineering, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA; 2UC Berkeley and UCSF Joint Graduate Program in Bioengineering, Berkeley/San Francisco, CA, USA; 3Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, San Francisco, CA, USA

Abstract: The treatment of myocardial infarction is a major challenge in medicine due to the inability of heart tissue to regenerate. Direct reprogramming of endogenous cardiac fibroblasts into functional cardiomyocytes via the delivery of transcription factor mRNAs has the potential to regenerate cardiac tissue and to treat heart failure. Even though mRNA delivery to cardiac fibroblasts has the therapeutic potential, mRNA transfection in cardiac fibroblasts has been challenging. Herein, we develop an efficient mRNA transfection in cultured mouse cardiac fibroblasts via a polyarginine-fused heart-targeting peptide and lipofectamine complex, termed C-Lipo and demonstrate the partial direct reprogramming of cardiac fibroblasts towards cardiomyocyte cells. C-Lipo enabled the mRNA-induced direct cardiac reprogramming due to its efficient transfection with low toxicity, which allowed for multiple transfections of Gata4, Mef2c, and Tbx5 (GMT) mRNAs for a period of 2 weeks. The induced cardiomyocyte-like cells had α-MHC promoter-driven GFP expression and striated cardiac muscle structure from a-actinin immunohistochemistry. GMT mRNA transfection of cultured mouse cardiac fibroblasts via C-Lipo significantly increased expression of the cardiomyocyte marker genes, Actc1, Actn2, Gja1, Hand2, and Tnnt2, after 2 weeks of transfection. Moreover, this study provides the first direct evidence that the stoichiometry of the GMT reprogramming factors influence the expression of cardiomyocyte marker genes. Our results demonstrate that mRNA delivery is a potential approach for cardiomyocyte generation.

Keywords: direct cardiac reprogramming, cardiac fibroblast transfection, mRNA transfection, cardiac regeneration

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