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1.  Extended and stable gene expression via nucleofection of MIDGE construct into adult human marrow mesenchymal stromal cells 
Cytotechnology  2011;64(2):203-216.
Human mesenchymal stromal cell (hMSC) is a potential target for cell and gene therapy-based approaches against a variety of different diseases. Whilst cationic lipofection has been widely experimented, the Nucleofector technology is a relatively new non-viral transfection method designed for primary cells and hard-to-transfect cell lines. Herein, we compared the efficiency and viability of nucleofection with cationic lipofection, and used the more efficient transfection method, nucleofection, to deliver a construct of minimalistic, immunologically defined gene expression encoding the erythropoietin (MIDGE-EPO) into hMSC. MIDGE construct is relatively safer than the viral and plasmid expression systems as the detrimental eukaryotic and prokaryotic gene and sequences have been eliminated. Using a plasmid encoding the luciferase gene, we demonstrated a high transfection efficiency using the U-23 (21.79 ± 1.09%) and C-17 (5.62 ± 1.09%) pulsing program in nucleofection. The cell viabilities were (44.93 ± 10.10)% and (21.93 ± 5.72)%, respectively 24 h post-nucleofection. On the other hand, lipofection treatment only yielded less than 0.6% efficiencies despite showing higher viabilities. Nucleofection did not affect hMSC renewability, immunophenotype and differentiation potentials. Subsequently, we nucleofected MIDGE-EPO using the U-23 pulsing program into hMSC. The results showed that, despite a low nucleofection efficiency with this construct, the EPO protein was stably expressed in the nucleofected cells up to 55 days when determined by ELISA or immunocytochemical staining. In conclusion, nucleofection is an efficient non-viral transfection approach for hMSC, which when used in conjunction with a MIDGE construct, could result in extended and stable transgene expression in hMSC.
PMCID: PMC3279580  PMID: 22160354
Bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells; Nucleofection; Cationic lipofection; MIDGE; Erythropoietin
2.  Comparison of Gene-Transfer Efficiency in Human Embryonic Stem Cells 
Molecular Imaging and Biology  2009;12(1):15-24.
Technologies designed to allow manipulation and modification of human embryonic stem (hES) cells are numerous and vary in the complexity of their methods, efficiency, reliability, and safety. The most commonly studied and practiced of these methods include electroporation, lipofection, nucleofection, and lentiviral transduction. However, at present, it is unclear which protocol offers the most efficient and reliable method of gene transfer to hES cells. In this study, a bi-fusion construct with ubiquitin promoter driving enhanced green fluorescent protein reporter and the firefly luciferase (pUb-eGFP-Fluc) along with neomycin selection marker was used for in vitro and in vivo studies. In vitro studies examined the transfection efficiency and viability of each technique using two hES cell lines (male H1 and female H9 cells). Lentiviral transduction demonstrated the highest efficiency (H1: 25.3 ± 4.8%; H9: 22.4 ± 6.5%) with >95% cell viability. Nucleofection demonstrated transfection efficiency of 16.1 ± 3.6% (H1) and 5.8 ± 3.2% (H9). However, minimal transfection efficiency was observed with electroporation (2.1 ± 0.4% (H1) and 1.9 ± 0.3% (H9)) and lipofection (1.5 ± 0.5% (H1) and 1.3 ± 0.2% (H9); P < 0.05 vs. lentiviral transduction). Electroporation also demonstrated the highest cell death (62 ± 11% (H1) and 42 ± 10% (H9)) followed by nucleofection (25 ± 9% (H1) and 30 ± 15 (H9)). Importantly, lentiviral transduction generated a greater number of hES cell lines stably expressing the double-fusion reporter gene (hES-DF) compared to other transfection techniques. Finally, following subcutaneous transplantation into immunodeficient nude mice, the hES-eGFP-Fluc cells showed robust proliferation as determined by longitudinal bioluminescence imaging. In summary, this study demonstrates that lentiviral transduction and nucleofection are efficient, simple, and safe techniques for reliable gene transfer in hES cells. The double-fusion construct provides an attractive approach for generating stable hES cell lines and monitoring engraftment and proliferation in vitro and in vivo.
PMCID: PMC2803751  PMID: 19551446
Human embryonic stem cell; Molecular imaging; Gene transfer; Plasmid transfection; Lentivirus transduction
3.  High-Level Antigen Expression and Sustained Antigen Presentation in Dendritic Cells Nucleofected with Wild-Type Viral mRNA but Not DNA▿  
Dendritic cells (DC) are potent antigen-presenting cells that hold promise as cell-based therapeutic vaccines for infectious diseases and cancer. Ideally, DC would be engineered to express autologous viral or tumor antigens to ensure the presentation of relevant antigens to host T cells in vivo; however, expression of wild-type viral genes in primary cell lines can be problematic. Nucleofection is an effective means of delivering transgenes to primary cell lines, but its use in transfecting DNA or mRNA into DC has not been widely investigated. We show that nucleofection is a superior means of transfecting human and monkey monocyte-derived DC with DNA and mRNA compared to lipofection and conventional electroporation. However, the delivery of DNA and mRNA had significantly different outcomes in transfected DC. DC nucleofected with DNA encoding green fluorescent protein (GFP) had poor antigen expression and viability and were refractory to maturation with CD40 ligand. In contrast, >90% of DC expressed uniform and high levels of GFP from 3 h to 96 h postnucleofection with mRNA while maintaining a normal maturation response to CD40 ligation. Monkey DC nucleofected with wild-type, non-codon-optimized mRNA encoding simian immunodeficiency virus Gag stimulated robust antigen-specific effector T-cell responses at 24 h and 48 h postnucleofection, reflecting sustained antigen presentation in transfected DC, whereas no detectable T-cell response was noted when DC were nucleofected with DNA encoding the same Gag sequence. These data indicate that mRNA nucleofection may be an optimal means of transfecting DC with autologous tumor or viral antigen for DC-based immunotherapy.
PMCID: PMC2546670  PMID: 18667638
4.  High Efficiency Ex Vivo Gene Transfer to Primary Murine B Cells Using Plasmid or Viral Vectors 
Primary autologous B-lymphocytes, following ex vivo gene transfer and re-implantation, have been successfully utilized to prevent autoimmune disease and adaptive responses to therapeutic proteins in several animal models. However, efficient gene transfer to primary B cells requires use of retroviral vectors, which increase the risk of insertional mutagenesis. Here, we evaluated several alternative gene transfer approaches. Resting splenic B cells were purified and activated with LPS, and ex vivo GFP gene transfer was performed by means of nucleofection, lipofectamine, adenoviral infection, or murine retroviral infection. The Adenoviral (Ad) vectors were added to B cell cultures with or without calcium phosphate precipitation. For transfection and nucleofection, naked plasmid DNA was utilized. Nucleofection technology represents a modified electroporation technique for effective transfer of nucleic acids to the nucleus and thus enhances the efficiency of transfer particularly for primary cells. Efficiency of ex vivo gene transfer was determined by flow cytometry using GFP, CD19, and a vital dye as markers. Nucleofection yielded the highest level of gene transfer with 60–65% of B cells being GFP+. Efficiencies were 30–35% for retrovirus, 20% for Ad5/11, 15% for Ad5/35, and 5% for lipofectamine-mediated transfection. Calcium phosphate precipitation increased efficiencies for Ad vectors to 30% (Ad5/11) and 25% (Ad5/35). Lipofectamin caused the greatest cell death at 80%, followed by nucleofection (35%), and viral vector (10–15% in each case). For all methods, gene transfer efficiencies were nearly identical for B cells from C57BL/6 or C3H/HeOuJ mice. In conclusion, recent advances in gene transfer technologies provide alternatives to retroviral vectors for primary B cells. If stable gene transfer is desired, non-integrating vector systems may be combined with transposon- or phage integrase-based systems or future site-specific systems to achieve integration into the host B cell genome.
PMCID: PMC3615457  PMID: 23565344
B cells; Transfection; Ex vivo gene transfer; Plasmid DNA; Adenovirus; Retrovirus
5.  Hypertrophy is induced during the in vitro chondrogenic differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells by bone morphogenetic protein-2 and bone morphogenetic protein-4 gene transfer 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2009;11(5):R148.
The present study compares bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-4 and BMP-2 gene transfer as agents of chondrogenesis and hypertrophy in human primary mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) maintained as pellet cultures.
Adenoviral vectors carrying cDNA encoding human BMP-4 (Ad.BMP-4) were constructed by cre-lox combination and compared to previously generated adenoviral vectors for BMP-2 (Ad.BMP-2), green fluorescent protein (Ad.GFP), or firefly luciferase (Ad.Luc). Cultures of human bone-marrow derived MSCs were infected with 5 × 102 viral particles/cell of Ad.BMP-2, or Ad.BMP-4, seeded into aggregates and cultured for three weeks in a defined, serum-free medium. Untransduced cells or cultures transduced with marker genes served as controls. Expression of BMP-2 and BMP-4 was determined by ELISA, and aggregates were analyzed histologically, immunohistochemically, biochemically and by RT-PCR for chondrogenesis and hypertrophy.
Levels of BMP-2 and BMP-4 in the media were initially 30 to 60 ng/mL and declined thereafter. BMP-4 and BMP-2 genes were equipotent inducers of chondrogenesis in primary MSCs as judged by lacuna formation, strong staining for proteoglycans and collagen type II, increased levels of GAG synthesis, and expression of mRNAs associated with the chondrocyte phenotype. However, BMP-4 modified aggregates showed a lower tendency to progress towards hypertrophy, as judged by expression of alkaline phosphatase, annexin 5, immunohistochemical staining for type X collagen protein, and lacunar size.
BMP-2 and BMP-4 were equally effective in provoking chondrogenesis by primary human MSCs in pellet culture. However, chondrogenesis triggered by BMP-2 and BMP-4 gene transfer showed considerable evidence of hypertrophic differentiation, with, the cells resembling growth plate chondrocytes both morphologically and functionally. This suggests caution when using these candidate genes in cartilage repair.
PMCID: PMC2787261  PMID: 19799789
6.  Phosphate-Buffered Saline-Based Nucleofection of Primary Endothelial Cells 
Analytical biochemistry  2008;386(2):251-255.
Although various non-viral transfection methods are available, cell-toxicity, low transfection efficiency and high-cost remain hurdles for in vitro gene delivery in cultured primary endothelial cells. Recently, unprecedented transfection efficiency for primary endothelial cells has been achieved due to the newly developed nucleofection technology that utilizes a combination of novel electroporation conditions and specific buffer components that stabilize the cells in the electrical field. Despite its superior transfection efficiency and cell viability, high cost of the technology has discouraged the cardiovascular researchers to liberally adopt this new technology. Here, we report that a phosphate-buffered saline (PBS)-based nucleofection method can be used for efficient gene delivery into primary endothelial cells and other types of cells. Comparative analyses of transfection efficiency and cell viability for primary arterial, venous, microvascular and lymphatic endothelial cells were performed by using PBS. Compared to the commercial buffers, PBS can support equally remarkable nucleofection efficiency to both primary and non-primary cells. Moreover, PBS-mediated nucleofection of siRNA showed more than 90% knockdown of the expression of target genes in primary endothelial cells. Together, we demonstrate that PBS can be an unprecedented economical alternative for the high-cost buffers for nucleofection of various primary and non-primary cells.
PMCID: PMC2677097  PMID: 19150324
electroporation; nucleofection; primary endothelial cells; phosphate-buffered saline
7.  Ameloblastin Inhibits Cranial Suture Closure by Modulating Msx2 Expression and Proliferation 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e52800.
Deformities of cranial sutures such as craniosynostosis and enlarged parietal foramina greatly impact human development and quality of life. Here we have examined the role of the extracellular matrix protein ameloblastin (Ambn), a recent addition to the family of non-collagenous extracellular bone matrix proteins, in craniofacial bone development and suture formation. Using RT-PCR, western blot and immunohistochemistry, Ambn was localized in mouse calvarial bone and adjacent condensed mesenchyme. Five-fold Ambn overexpression in a K14-driven transgenic mouse model resulted in delayed posterior frontal suture fusion and incomplete suture closure. Moreover, Ambn overexpressor skulls weighed 13.2% less, their interfrontal bones were 35.3% thinner, and the width between frontal bones plus interfrontal suture was 14.3% wider. Ambn overexpressing mice also featured reduced cell proliferation in suture blastemas and in mesenchymal cells from posterior frontal sutures. There was a more than 2-fold reduction of Msx2 in Ambn overexpressing calvariae and suture mesenchymal cells, and this effect was inversely proportionate to the level of Ambn overexpression in different cell lines. The reduction of Msx2 expression as a result of Ambn overexpression was further enhanced in the presence of the MEK/ERK pathway inhibitor O126. Finally, Ambn overexpression significantly reduced Msx2 down-stream target gene expression levels, including osteogenic transcription factors Runx2 and Osx, the bone matrix proteins Ibsp, ColI, Ocn and Opn, and the cell cycle-related gene CcnD1. Together, these data suggest that Ambn plays a crucial role in the regulation of cranial bone growth and suture closure via Msx 2 suppression and proliferation inhibition.
PMCID: PMC3617155  PMID: 23593111
8.  Comparative transfection of DNA into primary and transformed mammalian cells from different lineages 
BMC Biotechnology  2010;10:9.
The delivery of DNA into human cells has been the basis of advances in the understanding of gene function and the development of genetic therapies. Numerous chemical and physical approaches have been used to deliver the DNA, but their efficacy has been variable and is highly dependent on the cell type to be transfected.
Studies were undertaken to evaluate and compare the transfection efficacy of several chemical reagents to that of the electroporation/nucleofection system using both adherent cells (primary and transformed airway epithelial cells and primary fibroblasts as well as embryonic stem cells) and cells in suspension (primary hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells and lymphoblasts). With the exception of HEK 293 cell transfection, nucleofection proved to be less toxic and more efficient at effectively delivering DNA into the cells as determined by cell proliferation and GFP expression, respectively. Lipofectamine and nucleofection of HEK 293 were essentially equivalent in terms of toxicity and efficiency. Transient transfection efficiency in all the cell systems ranged from 40%-90%, with minimal toxicity and no apparent species specificity. Differences in efficiency and toxicity were cell type/system specific.
In general, the Amaxa electroporation/nucleofection system appears superior to other chemical systems. However, there are cell-type and species specific differences that need to be evaluated empirically to optimize the conditions for transfection efficiency and cell survival.
PMCID: PMC2830169  PMID: 20144189
9.  BMP Signaling Is Required for RUNX2-Dependent Induction of the Osteoblast Phenotype 
RUNX2 expression in mesenchymal cells induces osteoblast differentiation and bone formation. BMP blocking agents were used to show that RUNX2-dependent osteoblast differentiation and transactivation activity both require BMP signaling and, further, that RUNX2 enhances the responsiveness of cells to BMPs.
BMPs and the RUNX2 transcription factor are both able to stimulate osteoblast differentiation and bone formation. BMPs function by activating SMAD proteins and other signal transduction pathways to stimulate expression of many target genes including RUNX2. In contrast, RUNX2 induces osteoblast-specific gene expression by directly binding to enhancer regions in target genes. In this study, we examine the interdependence of these two factors in controlling osteoblast differentiation in mesenchymal progenitor cells.
Materials and Methods
C3H10T1/2 mesenchymal cells and primary cultures of marrow stromal cells were transduced with a RUNX2 adenovirus and treated with BMP blocking antibodies or the natural antagonist, NOGGIN. Osteoblast differentiation was determined by assaying alkaline phosphatase and measuring osteoblast-related mRNA using quantitative RT/PCR. Activation of BMP-responsive signal transduction pathways (SMAD, extracellular signal-regulated kinase [ERK], p38, and c-jun-N-terminal kinase [JNK]) was assessed on Western blots.
Results and Conclusions
C3H10T1/2 cells constitutively synthesize BMP2 and 4 mRNA and protein, and this BMP activity is sufficient to activate basal levels of SMAD phosphorylation. Inhibition of BMP signaling was shown to disrupt the ability of RUNX2 to stimulate osteoblast differentiation and transactivate an osteocalcin gene promoter-luciferase reporter in C3H10T1/2 cells. BMP blocking antibodies also inhibited RUNX2-dependent osteoblast differentiation in primary cultures of murine marrow stromal cells. Conversely, RUNX2 expression synergistically stimulated BMP2 signaling in C3H10T1/2 cells. However, RUNX2 did not increase the ability of this BMP to activate SMAD, ERK, p38, and JNK pathways. This study shows that autocrine BMP production is necessary for the RUNX2 transcription factor to be active and that BMPs and RUNX2 cooperatively interact to stimulate osteoblast gene expression.
PMCID: PMC2435171  PMID: 16598384
osteoblast; BMP/SMAD; transcriptional factors; RUNX2
10.  Regulation of BMP-Induced Transcription in Cultured Human Bone Marrow Stromal Cells 
Adherent bone marrow stromal cells are inducible osteoprogenitors, giving rise to cells expressing osteoblast markers including alkaline phosphatase, osteopontin, osteocalcin, and bone sialoprotein. However, the potency of inducers varies in a species-specific manner. Glucocorticoids such as dexamethasone induce alkaline phosphatase activity in both human and rat mesenchymal stem cells, while mouse bone marrow stromal cells are refractory to dexamethasone-induced alkaline phosphatase activity. In contrast, BMP induces alkaline phosphatase activity in both mouse and rat bone marrow stromal cells, while BMP effects on human bone marrow stromal cells are poorly characterized.
Bone marrow samples were isolated from patients undergoing hip replacement. Mononuclear marrow cells were cultured and grown to confluence without or with 10−7M dexamethasone. Cells from each isolate were passaged into medium containing 100 μg/mL ascorbate phosphate and treated with dexamethasone, 100 ng/mL BMP, or no inducer. At day 6, alkaline phosphatase activity was assayed, and RNA was prepared for mRNA analyses by real-time polymerase chain reaction.
Bone marrow stromal cells from twenty-four of twenty-six patients showed no significant osteogenic response to BMP-2, 4, or 7 as determined by alkaline phosphatase induction. However, BMPs induced elevated levels of other genes associated with osteogenesis such as bone sialoprotein and osteopontin as well as BMP-2 and noggin. If primary cultures of human bone marrow stromal cells were pretreated with dexamethasone, BMP-2 treatment of first-passage cells induced alkaline phosphatase in approximately half of the isolates, and significantly greater induction was seen in cells from males. Dexamethasone treatment, like BMP treatment, also increased expression of the BMP-binding protein noggin.
Most human femur bone marrow stromal cell samples appear incapable of expressing elevated alkaline phosphatase levels in response to BMPs. Since BMP treatment induced expression of several other BMP-regulated genes, the defect in alkaline phosphatase induction is presumably not due to impaired BMP signaling. We hypothesize that the mechanism by which BMPs modulate alkaline phosphatase expression is indirect, involving a BMP-regulated transcription factor for alkaline phosphatase expression that is controlled differently in humans and rodents.
Clinical Relevance
We suggest that the relative insensitivity of alkaline phosphatase to BMP induction in human bone marrow stromal cells may contribute to the variation in efficacy reported with BMP in clinical settings.
PMCID: PMC1351076  PMID: 12925605
11.  Augmentation of Smad-dependent BMP signaling in neural crest cells causes craniosynostosis in mice 
Craniosynostosis describes conditions in which one or more sutures of the infant skull are prematurely fused, resulting in facial deformity and delayed brain development. Approximately 20% of human craniosynostoses are thought to result from gene mutations altering growth factor signaling; however, the molecular mechanisms by which these mutations cause craniosynostosis are incompletely characterized, and the causative genes for diverse types of syndromic craniosynostosis have yet to be identified. Here, we show that enhanced bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling through the BMP type IA receptor (BMPR1A) in cranial neural crest cells, but not in osteoblasts, causes premature suture fusion in mice. In support of a requirement for precisely regulated BMP signaling, this defect was rescued on a Bmpr1a haploinsufficient background, with corresponding normalization of Smad phosphorylation. Moreover, in vivo treatment with LDN-193189, a selective chemical inhibitor of BMP type I receptor kinases resulted in partial rescue of craniosynostosis. Enhanced signaling of the fibroblast growth factor (FGF) pathway, which has been implicated in craniosynostosis, was observed in both mutant and rescued mice, suggesting that augmentation of FGF signaling is not the sole cause of premature fusion found in this model. The finding that relatively modest augmentation of Smad-dependent BMP signaling leads to premature cranial suture fusion suggests an important contribution of dysregulated BMP signaling to syndromic craniosynostoses, and potential strategies for early intervention.
PMCID: PMC3638058  PMID: 23281127
BMP; Craniosynostosis; Neural crest cells; Smad-signaling; Suture
12.  Unravelling the molecular control of calvarial suture fusion in children with craniosynostosis 
BMC Genomics  2007;8:458.
Craniosynostosis, the premature fusion of calvarial sutures, is a common craniofacial abnormality. Causative mutations in more than 10 genes have been identified, involving fibroblast growth factor, transforming growth factor beta, and Eph/ephrin signalling pathways. Mutations affect each human calvarial suture (coronal, sagittal, metopic, and lambdoid) differently, suggesting different gene expression patterns exist in each human suture. To better understand the molecular control of human suture morphogenesis we used microarray analysis to identify genes differentially expressed during suture fusion in children with craniosynostosis. Expression differences were also analysed between each unfused suture type, between sutures from syndromic and non-syndromic craniosynostosis patients, and between unfused sutures from individuals with and without craniosynostosis.
We identified genes with increased expression in unfused sutures compared to fusing/fused sutures that may be pivotal to the maintenance of suture patency or in controlling early osteoblast differentiation (i.e. RBP4, GPC3, C1QTNF3, IL11RA, PTN, POSTN). In addition, we have identified genes with increased expression in fusing/fused suture tissue that we suggest could have a role in premature suture fusion (i.e. WIF1, ANXA3, CYFIP2). Proteins of two of these genes, glypican 3 and retinol binding protein 4, were investigated by immunohistochemistry and localised to the suture mesenchyme and osteogenic fronts of developing human calvaria, respectively, suggesting novel roles for these proteins in the maintenance of suture patency or in controlling early osteoblast differentiation. We show that there is limited difference in whole genome expression between sutures isolated from patients with syndromic and non-syndromic craniosynostosis and confirmed this by quantitative RT-PCR. Furthermore, distinct expression profiles for each unfused suture type were noted, with the metopic suture being most disparate. Finally, although calvarial bones are generally thought to grow without a cartilage precursor, we show histologically and by identification of cartilage-specific gene expression that cartilage may be involved in the morphogenesis of lambdoid and posterior sagittal sutures.
This study has provided further insight into the complex signalling network which controls human calvarial suture morphogenesis and craniosynostosis. Identified genes are candidates for targeted therapeutic development and to screen for craniosynostosis-causing mutations.
PMCID: PMC2222648  PMID: 18076769
13.  Bone morphogenetic protein signaling and growth suppression in colon cancer 
Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are members of the transforming growth factor-β superfamily, which utilize BMP receptors and intracellular SMADs to transduce their signals to regulate cell differentiation, proliferation, and apoptosis. Because mutations in BMP receptor type IA (BMPRIA) and SMAD4 are found in the germline of patients with the colon cancer predisposition syndrome juvenile polyposis, and because the contribution of BMP in colon cancers is largely unknown, we examined colon cancer cells and tissues for evidence of BMP signaling and determined its growth effects. We determined the presence and functionality of BMPR1A by examining BMP-induced phosphorylation and nuclear translocation of SMAD1; transcriptional activity via a BMP-specific luciferase reporter; and growth characteristics by cell cycle analysis, cell growth, and 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide metabolic as-says. These assays were also performed after transfection with a dominant negative (DN) BMPR1A construct. In SMAD4-null SW480 cells, we examined BMP effects on cellular wound assays as well as BMP-induced transcription in the presence of transfected SMAD4. We also determined the expression of BMPR1A, BMP ligands, and phospho-SMAD1 in primary human colon cancer specimens. We found intact BMP signaling and modest growth suppression in HCT116 and two derivative cell lines and, surprisingly, growth suppression in SMAD4-null SW480 cells. BMP-induced SMAD signaling and BMPR1A-mediated growth suppression were reversed with DN BMPR1A transfection. BMP2 slowed wound closure, and transfection of SMAD4 into SW480 cells did not change BMP-specific transcriptional activity over controls due to receptor stimulation by endogenously produced ligand. We found no cell cycle alterations with BMP treatment in the HCT116 and derivative cell lines, but there was an increased G1 fraction in SW480 cells that was not due to increased p21 transcription. In human colon cancer specimens, BMP2 and BMP7 ligands, BMPRIA, and phospho-SMAD1 were expressed. In conclusion, BMP signaling is intact and growth suppressive in human colon cancer cells. In addition to SMADs, BMP may utilize SMAD4-independent pathways for growth suppression in colon cancers.
PMCID: PMC4138725  PMID: 16769811
transforming growth factor-β; tumor suppressor
14.  Efficiently engineered cell sheet using a complex of polyethylenimine–alginate nanocomposites plus bone morphogenetic protein 2 gene to promote new bone formation 
Regeneration of large bone defects is a common clinical problem. Recently, stem cell sheet has been an emerging strategy in bone tissue engineering. To enhance the osteogenic potential of stem cell sheet, we fabricated bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP-2) gene-engineered cell sheet using a complex of polyethylenimine–alginate (PEI–al) nanocomposites plus human BMP-2 complementary(c)DNA plasmid, and studied its osteogenesis in vitro and in vivo. PEI–al nanocomposites carrying BMP-2 gene could efficiently transfect bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells. The cell sheet was made by culturing the cells in medium containing vitamin C for 10 days. Assays on the cell culture showed that the genetically engineered cells released the BMP-2 for at least 14 days. The expression of osteogenesis-related gene was increased, which demonstrated that released BMP-2 could effectively induce the cell sheet osteogenic differentiation in vitro. To further test the osteogenic potential of the cell sheet in vivo, enhanced green fluorescent protein or BMP-2-producing cell sheets were treated on the cranial bone defects. The results indicated that the BMP-2-producing cell sheet group was more efficient than other groups in promoting bone formation in the defect area. Our results suggested that PEI–al nanocomposites efficiently deliver the BMP-2 gene to bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells and that BMP-2 gene-engineered cell sheet is an effective way for promoting bone regeneration.
PMCID: PMC4019610  PMID: 24855355
bone regeneration; bone tissue engineering; nanocomposites; cell sheet; bone morphogenetic protein 2
15.  Assessment of methods and analysis of outcomes for comprehensive optimization of nucleofection 
Nucleofection is an emerging technology for delivery of nucleic acids into both the cytoplasm and nucleus of eukaryotic cells with high efficiency. This makes it an ideal technology for gene delivery and siRNA applications. A 96-well format has recently been made available for high-throughput nucleofection, however conditions must be optimized for delivery into each specific cell type. Screening each 96-well plate can be expensive, and descriptions of methods and outcomes to determine the best conditions are lacking in the literature. Here we employ simple methods, including cell counting, microscopy, viability and cytotoxicity assays to describe the minimal experimental methods required to optimize nucleofection conditions for a given cell line.
We comprehensively measured and analyzed the outcomes of the 96-well nucleofection of pmaxGFP plasmids encoding green fluorescent protein (GFP) into the A-549 human lung epithelial cell line. Fluorescent microscopy and a plate reader were used to respectively observe and quantify green fluorescence in both whole and lysed cells. Cell viability was determined by direct counting/permeability assays, and by both absorbance and fluorescence-based plate reader cytotoxicity assays. Finally, an optimal nucleofection condition was used to deliver siRNA and gene specific knock-down was demonstrated.
GFP fluorescence among conditions ranged from non-existent to bright, based upon the fluorescent microscopy and plate reader results. Correlation between direct counting of cells and plate-based cytotoxicity assays were from R = .81 to R = .88, depending on the assay. Correlation between the GFP fluorescence of lysed and unlysed cells was high, ranging from R = .91 to R = .97. Finally, delivery of a pooled sample of siRNAs targeting the gene relA using an optimized nucleofection condition resulted in a 70–95% knock down of the gene over 48 h with 90–97% cell viability.
Our results show the optimal 96-well nucleofection conditions for the widely-used human cell line, A-549. We describe simple, effective methods for determining optimal conditions with high confidence, providing a useful road map for other laboratories planning optimization of specific cell lines or primary cells. Our analysis of outcomes suggests the need to only measure unlysed, whole-cell fluorescence and cell metabolic activity using a plate reader cytotoxicity assay to determine the best conditions for 96-well nucleofection.
PMCID: PMC2683797  PMID: 19432988
16.  Non-viral transfection of goat germline stem cells by nucleofection results in production of transgenic sperm after germ cell transplantation 
Germline stem cells (GSCs) can be used for large-animal transgenesis, in which GSCs that are genetically manipulated in vitro are transplanted into a recipient testis to generate donor-derived transgenic sperm. The objectives of this study were to explore a non-viral approach for transgene delivery into goat GSCs and to investigate the efficiency of nucleofection in producing transgenic sperm. Four recipient goats received fractionated irradiation at 8 weeks of age to deplete endogenous GSCs. Germ-cell transplantations were performed 8-9 weeks post-irradiation. Donor cells were collected from testes of 9 week-old goats, enriched for GSCs by Staput velocity sedimentation, and transfected by nucleofection with a transgene construct harboring the human growth hormone gene under the control of the goat beta-casein promoter (GBC) and a chicken beta-globin insulator (CBGI) sequence upstream of the promoter. For each recipient, transfected cells from 10 nucleofection reactions were pooled, mixed with non-transfected cells to a total of 1.5×108 cells in 3ml, and transplanted into one testis (n = 4 recipients) by ultrasound-guided cannulation of the rete testis. The second testis of each recipient was removed. Semen was collected starting at 9 months after transplantation for a period of over a year (a total of 62 ejaculates from 4 recipients). Nested genomic PCR for hGH and CBGI sequences demonstrated that 31.3%±12.6% of ejaculates were positive for both hGH and CBGI. This study provides proof-of-concept that non-viral transfection (nucleofection) of primary goat germ cells followed by germ cell transplantation results in transgene transmission to sperm in recipient goats.
PMCID: PMC3368892  PMID: 22231935
Transgenic animals; germline stem cells; spermatogenesis; nucleofection; germ cell transplantation
17.  Chordin knockdown enhances the osteogenic differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells 
Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are critical growth factors in the osteogenic differentiation of progenitor cells during development in embryos and fracture repair in adults. Although recombinant BMPs are in use clinically, their clinical efficiency needs to be improved. The biological activities of BMPs are naturally regulated by extracellular binding proteins. The specific hypotheses tested in this study were as follows: the BMP inhibitor chordin is produced endogenously during the osteogenic differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs); and blockade of the activity of the BMP inhibitor increases the rate of osteogenic differentiation of human MSCs in vitro.
Human MSCs were derived from bone marrow from an iliac crest aspirate and from patients undergoing hip hemiarthroplasty. The MSCs were induced down the osteogenic pathway using standard osteogenic differentiation media, and expressions of BMP-2 and chordin were determined by gene expression analysis. During osteogenic differentiation, chordin knockdown was induced using RNA interference. Osteogenic differentiation was assessed by measuring the expression of alkaline phosphatase and calcium deposition. The differences in expression of osteogenic makers between groups were compared by analysis of variance, followed by Gabriel post hoc test.
We demonstrate the expression of BMP-2 and chordin in human MSCs during osteogenic differentiation. Knockdown of chordin by RNA interference in vitro resulted in a significant increase in the expression of the osteogenic marker alkaline phosphatase and the deposition of extracellular mineral, in response to osteogenic stimulation.
We conclude that endogenously produced chordin constrains the osteogenic differentiation of human MSCs. The targeting of BMP inhibitors, such as chordin, may provide a novel strategy for enhancing bone regeneration.
PMCID: PMC2483456  PMID: 18533030
18.  Nucleofection Mediates High-Efficiency Stable Gene Knockdown and Transgene Expression in Human Embryonic Stem Cells 
Stem cells (Dayton, Ohio)  2008;26(6):10.1634/stemcells.2007-0857.
High-efficiency genetic modification of human embryonic stem (hES) cells would enable manipulation of gene activity, routine gene targeting, and development of new human disease models and treatments. Chemical transfection, nucleofection, and electroporation of hES cells result in low transfection efficiencies. Viral transduction is efficient but has significant drawbacks. Here we describe techniques to transiently and stably express transgenes in hES cells with high efficiency using a widely available vector system. The technique combines nucleofection of single hES cells with improved methods to select hES cells at clonal density. As validation, we reduced Oct4 and Nanog expression using siRNAs and shRNA vectors in hES cells. Furthermore, we derived many hES cell clones with either stably reduced alkaline phosphatase activity or stably overexpressed green fluorescent protein. These clones retained stem cell characteristics (normal karyotype, stem cell marker expression, self-renewal, and pluripotency). These studies will accelerate efforts to interrogate gene function and define the parameters that control growth and differentiation of hES cells.
PMCID: PMC3882114  PMID: 18323409
Human embryonic stem cells; Nucleofection; Transfection; Transgene expression; RNA interference; Green fluorescent protein; Oct4; Nanog
19.  Responses of intramembranous bone and sutures upon in vivo cyclic tensile and compressive loading 
Bone  2007;42(2):432-438.
Cranial vault and facial sutures interpose between mineralized bones of the skull, and may function analogously to appendicular and cranial base growth plates. However, unlike growth plates that are composed of chondrocyte lineage, cranial and facial sutures possess heterogeneous cell lineages such as mesenchymal cells, fibroblasts, and osteoblasts, in addition to vascular-derived cells. Despite recently intensified effort, the biological responses of intramembranous bone and sutures to mechanical loading are not well understood. This study was designed to investigate whether brief doses of tensile or compressive forces induce modeling and growth responses of intramembranous bone and sutures. In different groups of growing rabbits in vivo, cyclic tensile or compressive forces at 1 Newton and 8 Hz were applied to the maxilla for 20 min/d over 12 consecutive days. Computerized histomorphometric analyses revealed that the average sutural widths of both the premaxillomaxillary suture (PMS) and nasofrontal suture (NFS) loaded in either tension or compression were significantly higher than age- and sex-matched sham controls (P<0.01). The average cell density of tension- or compression-loaded PMS and NFS were significantly higher than sham controls (P<0.01). The average osteoblast occupied sutural bone surface loaded under tension was significantly higher than that of sham control (P<0.05). Interestingly, tensile loading significantly reduced the average osteoclast surface, in comparison to sham control (P<0.05). For the NFS, tensile loading significantly increased the average osteoblast occupied sutural bone surface, in comparison with that of sham control (P<0.05). Also for the NFS suture, compression significantly reduced the average sutural osteoclast surface in comparison with sham control (P<0.05). Taken together, the present data suggest that high-frequency cyclic forces in either tension or compression induce modeling and growth changes in cranial sutures. Due to the structural complexity of cranial vault and facial sutures, either tensile or compressive forces likely are transmitted as shear stresses and upregulate genes and gene products responsible for sutural growth.
PMCID: PMC4096789  PMID: 18032124
cranial sutures; forces; osteogenesis; osteoblasts; osteoclasts
20.  Differential Growth Factor Adsorption to Calvarial Osteoblast-Secreted Extracellular Matrices Instructs Osteoblastic Behavior 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e25990.
Craniosynostosis (CS), the premature ossification of cranial sutures, is attributed to increased osteogenic potential of resident osteoblasts, yet the contribution of the surrounding extracellular matrix (ECM) on osteogenic differentiation is unclear. The osteoblast-secreted ECM provides binding sites for cellular adhesion and regulates the transport and signaling of osteoinductive factors secreted by the underlying dura mater. The binding affinity of each osteoinductive factor for the ECM may amplify or mute its relative effect, thus contributing to the rate of suture fusion. The purpose of this paper was to examine the role of ECM composition derived from calvarial osteoblasts on protein binding and its resultant effect on cell phenotype. We hypothesized that potent osteoinductive proteins present during sutural fusion (e.g., bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2) and transforming growth factor beta-1 (TGF-β1)) would exhibit distinct differences in binding when exposed to ECMs generated by human calvarial osteoblasts from unaffected control individuals (CI) or CS patients. Decellularized ECMs produced by osteoblasts from CI or CS patients were incubated in the presence of BMP-2 or TGF-β1, and the affinity of each protein was analyzed. The contribution of ECM composition to protein binding was interrogated by enzymatically modulating proteoglycan content within the ECM. BMP-2 had a similar binding affinity for each ECM, while TGF-β1 had a greater affinity for ECMs produced by osteoblasts from CI compared to CS patients. Enzymatic treatment of ECMs reduced protein binding. CS osteoblasts cultured on enzymatically-treated ECMs secreted by osteoblasts from CI patients in the presence of BMP-2 exhibited impaired osteogenic differentiation compared to cells on untreated ECMs. These data demonstrate the importance of protein binding to cell-secreted ECMs and confirm that protein-ECM interactions have an important role in directing osteoblastic differentiation of calvarial osteoblasts.
PMCID: PMC3187840  PMID: 21998741
21.  Nucleofection optimization and in vitro anti-tumourigenic effect of TRAIL-expressing human adipose-derived mesenchymal stromal cells 
Cancer Cell International  2014;14(1):122.
Tumour homing capacity of engineered human adipose-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (ADMSCs) expressing anti-tumour agents might be the key for a much safer and yet efficient targeted tumour therapy. However, ADMSCs exhibit resistant to most gene transfection techniques and the use of highly efficient viral vectors has several disadvantages primarily concerning safety risk. Here, we optimized the use of highly efficient and safe nucleofection-based transfection using plasmid encoded for TNF-Related Apoptosis Inducing Ligand (TRAIL) into ADMSCs and investigated the potential anti-tumourigenic of TRAIL-expressing ADMSCs (ADMSCs-TRAIL) on selected cancer models in vitro.
Different concentration of TRAIL-encoded plasmid and ADMSCs were nucleofected and the percentage of fluorescence cells were analyzed to determine the optimal condition. TRAIL protein and mRNA were validated in nucloeofected ADMSCs using ELISA and RT-PCR respectively. Evaluation of TRAIL specific death receptors were performed on both tumours (A549/lung tumour, LN18/glioblastoma and HepG2/hepatocellular carcinoma) and haematological malignant lines (REH/acute lymphocytic leukaemia, K562/chronic myelogenous leukaemia and KMS-28BM/multiple myeloma) using flow cytometry. ADMSCs-TRAIL was subsequently assessed for anti-tumourigenic properties using both proliferation assay (MTS assay) and apoptosis assay (Annexin-V / Propidium Iodide staining).
Nucleofection showed increased total plasmid concentration (2 μg to 8 μg) resulted in significantly higher reporter expression (11.33% to 39.7%) with slight reduction on cells viability (~10%). ADMSCs-TRAIL significantly inhibited ~50% of cell proliferation in LN18, signifying sensitivity of the cell to ADMSCs-TRAIL mediated inhibition. Inhibition of both tumour and malignant lines proliferation by ADMSCs-TRAIL conditioned medium noticed in HepG2, A549 and REH respectively, whereas K562 and KMS-28BM malignant lines exhibit resistant to ADMSCs-TRAIL mediated inhibition. Moreover, we found that native ADMSCs alone were capable of inducing apoptosis in both LN18 and HepG2 tumour lines, despite substantial increased on the percentage of apoptosis by ADMSCs-TRAIL.
ADMSCs-TRAIL selectively inhibit cancer model and markedly induces apoptosis. Through investigation of the specific TRAIL death receptors expression, we saw that the receptors expression did influence the sensitivity of some but not all cancer lines to TRAIL-mediated inhibition. This study provides further insight into the anti-tumourigenic potential of ADMSCs-TRAIL on different cancer models.
PMCID: PMC4247692  PMID: 25469108
Human adipose derived mesenchymal stromal cells; Nucleofection; TNF-related apoptosis inducing ligand (TRAIL); Cancer cell lines; Proliferation; Apoptosis
22.  Molecular basis of cranial suture biology and disease: Osteoblastic and osteoclastic perspectives 
Genes & diseases  2014;1(1):120-125.
The normal growth and development of the skull is a tightly regulated process that occurs along the osteogenic interfaces of the cranial sutures. Here, the borders of the calvarial bones and neighboring tissues above and below, function as a complex. Through coordinated remodeling efforts of bone deposition and resorption, the cranial sutures maintain a state of patency from infancy through early adulthood as the skull continues to grow and accommodate the developing brain's demands for expansion. However, when this delicate balance is disturbed, a number of pathologic conditions ensue; and if left uncorrected, may result in visual and neurocognitive impairments. A prime example includes craniosynostosis, or premature fusion of one or more cranial and/or facial suture(s). At the present time, the only therapeutic measure for craniosynostosis is surgical correction by cranial vault reconstruction. However, elegant studies performed over the past decade have identified several genes critical for the maintenance of suture patency and induction of suture fusion. Such deeper understandings of the pathogenesis and molecular mechanisms that regulate suture biology may provide necessary insights toward the development of non-surgical therapeutic alternatives for patients with cranial suture defects. In this review, we discuss the intricate cellular and molecular interplay that exists within the suture among its three major components: dura mater, osteoblastic related molecular pathways and osteoclastic related molecular pathways.
PMCID: PMC4241362  PMID: 25426492
Cranial sutures; Craniosynostosis; Dura mater; Osteoblasts; Osteoclasts
23.  Oligonucleotide Delivery by Nucleofection Does Not Rescue the Reduced Proliferation Phenotype of Gene-Edited Cells 
Nucleic Acid Therapeutics  2012;22(6):405-413.
Gene editing using single-stranded oligonucleotides (ODNs) can be used to reverse or create a single base mutation in mammalian cells. This approach could be used to treat genetic diseases caused, at least in part, by a nucleotide substitution. The technique could also be used as a tool to establish single base polymorphisms at multiple sites and thus aid in creating cell lines that can be used to define the basis for drug resistance in human cells. A troubling outcome of the gene-editing reaction is the effect on normal growth of cells that have undergone nucleotide exchange. In this work, we attempt to overcome this reduced proliferation phenotype by changing the method by which the ODN is introduced into the target cell. Using a series of assays that measure gene editing, DNA damage response, and cell viability, we report that chemically modified ODNs, the most active form of ODN for gene editing, can be used successfully if introduced into the cell by the method of nucleofection. Unlike electroporation, which has been used as the standard mode of ODN delivery, one new result is that nucleofection does not induce a dramatic loss of viability within the first 24 hours after the start of gene editing. In addition, and importantly, ODNs introduced to the cell by nucleofection do not activate the DNA damage response pathway as dramatically as ODNs introduced by electroporation. These 2 novel findings are encouraging for the application of gene editing in other systems. However, reduced proliferation phenotype is still observed when the population of corrected cells is monitored out to 8 days, and thus, delivery by nucleofection does not solve the proliferation problem encountered by cells bearing an edited gene.
PMCID: PMC3507522  PMID: 23072627
24.  Estrogen/Estrogen Receptor Alpha Signaling in Mouse Posterofrontal Cranial Suture Fusion 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(9):e7120.
While premature suture fusion, or craniosynostosis, is a relatively common condition, the cause is often unknown. Estrogens are associated with growth plate fusion of endochondral bones. In the following study, we explore the previously unknown significance of estrogen/estrogen receptor signaling in cranial suture biology.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Firstly, estrogen receptor (ER) expression was examined in physiologically fusing (posterofrontal) and patent (sagittal) mouse cranial sutures by quantitative RT-PCR. Next, the cranial suture phenotype of ER alpha and ER beta knockout (αERKO, βERKO) mice was studied. Subsequently, mouse suture-derived mesenchymal cells (SMCs) were isolated; the effects of 17-β estradiol or the estrogen antagonist Fulvestrant on gene expression, osteogenic and chondrogenic differentiation were examined in vitro. Finally, in vivo experiments were performed in which Fulvestrant was administered subcutaneously to the mouse calvaria. Results showed that increased ERα but not ERβ transcript abundance temporally coincided with posterofrontal suture fusion. The αERKO but not βERKO mouse exhibited delayed posterofrontal suture fusion. In vitro, addition of 17-β estradiol enhanced both osteogenic and chondrogenic differentiation in suture-derived mesenchymal cells, effects reversible by Fulvestrant. Finally, in vivo application of Fulvestrant significantly diminished calvarial osteogenesis, inhibiting suture fusion.
Estrogen signaling through ERα but not ERβ is associated with and necessary for normal mouse posterofrontal suture fusion. In vitro studies suggest that estrogens may play a role in osteoblast and/or chondrocyte differentiation within the cranial suture complex.
PMCID: PMC2743190  PMID: 19771170
25.  Nucleofection: A New Method for Cutaneous Gene Transfer? 
Background. Transfection efficacy after nonviral gene transfer in primary epithelial cells is limited. The aim of this study was to compare transfection efficacy of the recently available method of nucleofection with the established transfection reagent FuGENE6. Methods. Primary human keratinocytes (HKC), primary human fibroblasts (HFB), and a human keratinocyte cell line (HaCaT) were transfected with reporter gene construct by FuGENE6 or Amaxa Nucleofector device. At corresponding time points, β-galactosidase expression, cell proliferation (MTT-Test), transduction efficiency (X-gal staining), cell morphology, and cytotoxicity (CASY) were determined. Results. Transgene expression after nucleofection was significantly higher in HKC and HFB and detected earlier (3 h vs. 24 h) than in FuGENE6. After lipofection 80%–90% of the cells remained proliferative without any influence on cell morphology. In contrast, nucleofection led to a decrease in keratinocyte cell size, with only 20%–42% proliferative cells. Conclusion. Related to the method-dependent increase of cytotoxicity, transgene expression after nucleofection was earlier and higher than after lipofection.
PMCID: PMC1698260  PMID: 17489014

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