iPS lentivirus

From iPSC to induced beta-cells, iN and iCM: dedifferentiation vs direct reprogramming

The success of inducing pluripotency in primary fibroblasts and other cells with a combination of only a small number of transcription factors suggested that fully differentiated cells might change fate following similar treatments. Since the demonstration of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), at least three examples have been published where 3 cell type-specific factors were selected from a pool of 10-20 candidates that, when expressed from viral vectors, could induce beta-cells, neurons, or cardiomyocytes.

Induced beta-cells [1]: Ngn3, Pdx1, and Mafa, adenovirus injected to in vivo targets

Induced neurons (iN) [2]: Ascl1, Brn2, and Myt1l, lentivirus infecting mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEF) or tail tip fibroblasts (TTF)

Induced cardiomyocytes (iCM) [3]: Gata4, Mef2c, and Tbx5, lentivirus infecting cardiac fibroblasts or TTF

In all 3 cases, the change of fate seemed to be via direct conversion, without passing through a progenitor cell fate before further differentiation. Like iPSC reprogramming, direct reprogramming also requires a transient supply of inducing factors. Unlike generating iPSCs, the percentage of cells getting reprogrammed is much higher in direct reprogramming, ~20% in the cases of iN and iCM vs 0.1-1% in iPSC. It is likely that a transient, inductive expression of essential factors jump-starts endogenous factors to establish cell fate specific programs; it has also been illustrated that chromatin remodeling through DNA methylation, histone modifications, etc. accompanies the direct reprogramming events.

The requirement of the full complement of inducting factors may vary depending on how close the original cell type is to the new cell type. iPSCs are typically created by using 4 genes, but can be created with just Sox2, Oct3/4 particularly when the cells to be reprogrammed are less differentiated, such as tissue progenitor cells. Instead of a more “complete” direct reprogramming from unrelated cells to iN and iCM, the induced beta-cells come from exocrine cells, which share parental cells with beta-cells.

Looking into the near future, it should be expected that cell type-specific gene expression profiles are being re-examined or created right this moment to look for candidate gene pools specific to other cell types, starting from those with cell therapy relevance. Lentivirus, retrovirus, adenovirus, or baculovirus for mammalian expression are being constructed to carry them into fibroblasts or cells that are close to the end product of direct reprogramming. In a few months, many of these inducing gene-expressing viruses will become shelf products as high titer viruses from suppliers like Allele Biotech, incorporating tools in viral packaging, fluorescent proteins, and polycistronic gene expression systems.

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1. Zhou, Q., J. Brown, A. Kanarek, J. Rajagopal, and D.A. Melton, In vivo reprogramming of adult pancreatic exocrine cells to beta-cells. Nature, 2008. 455(7213): p. 627-32.
2. Vierbuchen, T., A. Ostermeier, Z.P. Pang, Y. Kokubu, T.C. Sudhof, and M. Wernig, Direct conversion of fibroblasts to functional neurons by defined factors. Nature. 463(7284): p. 1035-41.
3. Ieda, M., J.D. Fu, P. Delgado-Olguin, V. Vedantham, Y. Hayashi, B.G. Bruneau, and D. Srivastava, Direct reprogramming of fibroblasts into functional cardiomyocytes by defined factors. Cell. 142(3): p. 375-86.

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Thursday, August 19th, 2010 iPSCs and other stem cells No Comments

Monitoring the Undifferentiated Stage of Stem Cells—the Pluripotency Markers

Human embryonic stem (ES) cells or induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells promise to serve as an unlimited source for transplantation or tissue-specific differentiation. However, obtaining and maintaining stem cells are very difficult tasks for multiple reasons. For instance, most stem cell lines tend to spontaneously differentiate in culture, and even if the cells form stem cell-like colonies, they may be of a heterogeneous population.

To identify pluripotency of stem cells, expression of stem cell-specific marker genes (i.e. Oct-3/4, Sox2, Nanog, Rex-1) is monitored by RT-PCR. Alkaline phosphatase activity and methylation profiles of promoters of pluripotency-relevant genes are often analyzed as well. Compared to murine cells, it is noticeably more difficult to obtain human iPSCs, of which stem cell-like colonies sometimes turn out not to be pluripotent cells. We highly recommend testing iPSCs, especially human iPSCs, with antibodies against stage-specific embryonic antigens such as SSEA-3, SSEA-4, TRA-1-60, and TRA-1-81.

However, all of these methods require cell destruction or fixation for analysis, therefore, are inconvenient and costly. Furthermore, many studies using ES or iPS cells involve differentiation of stem cells into different lineages, a method for observing live cells to know their undifferentiation/differentiation stages would be very helpful. There have been a number of publications using murine Oct-4, Nanog, and Rex-1 promoter driven fluorescent proteins as markers for pluripotency tests [1-3]. Allele Biotech provides, under its iPS product line, packaged and validated lentiviral particles that would insert these 3 promoter-FP reporters into the stem cells. Although currently these promoters are of mouse sequences, their use in human stem cells have been reported.

    New product of the week 01-25-10 to 01-31-10:

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human iPS cell detection primer set, the same as the landmark Yamanaka paper [4] on creating human iPS for the first time.

1. Da Yong WU, Zhen YAO (2005). Isolation and characterization of the murine Nanog gene promoter. Cell Research, 15 (5): 317–324.
2. Rachel Eiges, Maya Schuldiner..et.al (2001). Establishment of human embryonic stem cell?transfected clones carrying a marker for undifferentiated cell. Current Biology 11: 514–518.
3. Guangjin Pan, Jun Li, Yali Zhou, Hui Zheng, and Duanqing pei (2006). A negative feedback loop of transcription factors that control stem cell pluripotency and self?renewal. ASEB Journal 20: E1094? E1102
4. Takahashi et al, Induction of Pluripotent Stem Cell from Adult Human Fibroblasts by Defined Factors (2007). Cell 131, 861-872

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Thursday, January 28th, 2010 iPSCs and other stem cells No Comments

Commonly Known Facts About Viral Packaging -That Might Not Be Correct…

Packaging lentiviruses or retroviruses is not a routine procedure that every biology lab performs even if there is need to use it. A viral packaging protocol normally begins with preparation of purified transfer plasmid DNA, a miniprep should be enough for a few transfections. The virus backbone plasmid is either co-transfected into commonly used cells with helper plasmids that provide the essential proteins required for particle packaging, or transfected into established helper cell lines that express the required proteins from integrated transgenes. After incubation of packaging cells for a couple of days, viruses are collected and tittered. Titer determination is somewhat tricky for the inexperienced. Using a control virus expressing a fluorescent protein can make this step convenient.

Commonly known facts:

1) Lentiviruses are packaged at a titer of 10^6 IU/ml without concentrating steps.

This needs update since with more advanced technologies lentiviruses can be packaged routinely at 10^8 IU/ml. With further concentrating, the titer can be easily above 10^11 IU/ml. Retroviruses can be packaged to similar titers as well.

2) Using packaging cell lines gives the highest possible titer

While packaging cell lines (such as Allele’s popular Phoenix Eco and Ampho cells for retrovirus packaging) provides maybe the most convenient method for packaging, the yield will not reach the highest potential. Packaging cell lines may also lose their capability for packaging after continued culturing, requiring periodic selection with antibiotics and functional tests, as we do here at Allele.

3) Retroviruses are always collected in one shot after transfection into packaging cells

If the transfer vector has oriP/EBNA1 episomal maintenance system, such as some of the Phoenix vectors Allele offers, the plasmids may continue to express for up to 30 days. With puromycin selection, the titer of retrovirus produced from Eco or Ampho cells can reach 10^7 IU/ml.

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New Product/Service of the Week: Introduction of Custom Viral Packaging Service. Routine titer of 10^8 IU/ml, as high as 10^10 IU/ml, option to include cloning. Signature service ABP-CS-MERV002 provides more than 200 million particles at $7/million particles. These are game-changing prices for the viral packaging service market based on superior technologies!

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Wednesday, October 28th, 2009 Viruses and cells No Comments