Although transplantation of c-kit+ cardiac progenitor cells (CPCs) significantly alleviates post-myocardial infarction left ventricular dysfunction, generation of cardiomyocytes by exogenous CPCs in the recipient heart has often been limited. Inducing robust differentiation would be necessary for improving the efficacy of the regenerative cardiac cell therapy. We assessed the hypothesis that differentiation of human c-kit+ CPCs can be enhanced by priming them with cardiac transcription factors (TFs). We introduced five different TFs (Gata4, MEF2C, NKX2.5, TBX5, and BAF60C) into CPCs, either alone or in combination, and then examined the expression of marker genes associated with the major cardiac cell types using quantitative RT-PCR. When introduced individually, Gata4 and TBX5 induced a subset of myocyte markers. Moreover, Gata4 alone significantly induced smooth muscle cell and fibroblast markers. Interestingly, these gene expression changes brought by Gata4 were also accompanied by morphological changes. In contrast, MEF2C and NKX2.5 were largely ineffective in initiating cardiac gene expression in CPCs. Surprisingly, introduction of multiple TFs in different combinations mostly failed to act synergistically. Likewise, addition of BAF60C to Gata4 and/or TBX5 did not further potentiate their effects on cardiac gene expression. Based on our results, it appears that GATA4 is able to potentiate gene expression programs associated with multiple cardiovascular lineages in CPCs, suggesting that GATA4 may be effective in priming CPCs for enhanced differentiation in the setting of stem cell therapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
- General Agricultural and Biological Sciences