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1.  Engraftment potential of dermal fibroblasts following in vivo myogenic conversion in immunocompetent dystrophic skeletal muscle 
Autologous dermal fibroblasts are promising candidates for enhancing muscle regeneration in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) due to their ease of isolation, immunological compatibility, and greater proliferative potential than DMD satellite cells. We previously showed that mouse fibroblasts, after MyoD-mediated myogenic reprogramming in vivo, engraft in skeletal muscle and supply dystrophin. Assessing the therapeutic utility of this system requires optimization of conversion and transplantation conditions and quantitation of engraftment so that these parameters can be correlated with possible functional improvements. Here we derived dermal fibroblasts from transgenic mice carrying mini-dystrophin, transduced them by lentivirus carrying tamoxifen-inducible MyoD, and characterized their myogenic and engraftment potential. After cell transplantation into muscles of immunocompetent dystrophic mdx4cv mice, tamoxifen treatment drove myogenic conversion and fusion into myofibers that expressed high levels of mini-dystrophin. Injecting 50,000 cells/microliter (1 × 106 total cells) resulted in a peak of ~600 mini-dystrophin positive myofibers in TA muscle single cross-sections. However, EDL muscles with up to 30% regional engraftment showed no functional improvements; similar limitations were obtained with whole muscle mononuclear cells. Despite the current lack of physiological improvement, this study suggests a viable initial strategy for using a patient-accessible dermal cell population to enhance skeletal muscle regeneration in DMD.
PMCID: PMC4280788  PMID: 25558461
2.  Human Embryonic Stem Cell-Derived Cardiomyocytes Migrate in Response to Gradients of Fibronectin and Wnt5a 
Stem Cells and Development  2013;22(16):2315-2325.
An improved understanding of the factors that regulate the migration of human embryonic stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hESC-CMs) would provide new insights into human heart development and suggest novel strategies to improve their electromechanical integration after intracardiac transplantation. Since nothing has been reported as to the factors controlling hESC-CM migration, we hypothesized that hESC-CMs would migrate in response to the extracellular matrix and soluble signaling molecules previously implicated in heart morphogenesis. To test this, we screened candidate factors by transwell assay for effects on hESC-CM motility, followed by validation via live-cell imaging and/or gap-closure assays. Fibronectin (FN) elicited a haptotactic response from hESC-CMs, with cells seeded on a steep FN gradient showing nearly a fivefold greater migratory activity than cells on uniform FN. Studies with neutralizing antibodies indicated that adhesion and migration on FN are mediated by integrins α-5 and α-V. Next, we screened 10 soluble candidate factors by transwell assay and found that the noncanonical Wnt, Wnt5a, elicited an approximately twofold increase in migration over controls. This effect was confirmed using the gap-closure assay, in which Wnt5a-treated hESC-CMs showed approximately twofold greater closure than untreated cells. Studies with microfluidic-generated Wnt5a gradients showed that this factor was chemoattractive as well as chemokinetic, and Wnt5a-mediated responses were inhibited by the Frizzled-1/2 receptor antagonist, UM206. In summary, hESC-CMs show robust promigratory responses to FN and Wnt5a, findings that have implications on both cardiac development and cell-based therapies.
PMCID: PMC3732016  PMID: 23517131
3.  BMP Induction of Cardiogenesis in P19 Cells Requires Prior Cell-Cell Interaction(s) 
Mouse P19 embryonal carcinoma cells undergo cardiogenesis in response to high density and DMSO. We have derived a clonal subline which undergoes cardiogenesis in response to high density, but without requiring exposure to DMSO. The new subline retains the capacity to differentiate into skeletal muscle and neuronal cells in response to DMSO and retinoic acid. However, upon aggregation, these Oct 4-positive cells, termed P19-SI because they “self-induce” cardiac muscle, exhibit increased mRNAs encoding the mesodermal factor Brachyury, cardiac transcription factors Nkx 2.5 and GATA 4, the transcriptional repressor Msx-1, and cytokines Wnt 3a, Noggin and BMP 4. Exposure of aggregated P19-SI cells to BMP 4, a known inducer of cardiogenesis, accelerates cardiogenesis, as determined by rhythmic beating and myosin staining. However, cardiogenesis is severely inhibited when P19-SI cells are aggregated in the presence of BMP 4. These results demonstrate that cell-cell interaction is required before P19-SI cells can undergo a cardiogenic response to BMP 4. A concurrent increase in the expression of Msx-1 suggests one possible process underlying the inhibition of cardiogenesis. The phenotype of P19-SI cells offers an opportunity to explore new aspects of cardiac induction.
PMCID: PMC2572146  PMID: 16773658
P19; BMP; cardiogenesis; aggregation; self-induction
4.  Targeted Genomic Integration of a Selectable Floxed Dual Fluorescence Reporter in Human Embryonic Stem Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e46971.
The differentiation of pluripotent stem cells involves transition through a series of specific cell states. To understand these cell fate decisions, the field needs improved genetic tools for the labeling, lineage tracing and selection of specific cell types from heterogeneous differentiating populations, particularly in the human embryonic stem cell (hESC) system. We used zinc finger nuclease technology to stably insert a unique, selectable, floxed dual-fluorescence reporter transgene into the AAVS1 locus of RUES2 hESCs. This “stoplight” transgene, mTmG-2a-Puro, strongly expresses membrane-localized tdTomato red fluorescent protein until Cre-dependent recombination causes a switch to expression of membrane-localized enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) and puromycin resistance. First, to validate this system in undifferentiated cells, we transduced transgenic hESCs with a lentiviral vector driving constitutive expression of Cre and observed the expected phenotypic switch. Next, to demonstrate its utility in lineage-specific selection, we transduced differentiated cultures with a lentiviral vector in which the striated muscle-specific CK7 promoter drives Cre expression. This yielded near-homogenous populations of eGFP+ hESC-derived cardiomyocytes. The mTmg-2a-Puro hESC line described here represents a useful new tool for both in vitro fate mapping studies and the selection of useful differentiated cell types.
PMCID: PMC3468579  PMID: 23071682
5.  Differentiation and fiber type-specific activity of a muscle creatine kinase intronic enhancer 
Skeletal Muscle  2011;1:25.
Hundreds of genes, including muscle creatine kinase (MCK), are differentially expressed in fast- and slow-twitch muscle fibers, but the fiber type-specific regulatory mechanisms are not well understood.
Modulatory region 1 (MR1) is a 1-kb regulatory region within MCK intron 1 that is highly active in terminally differentiating skeletal myocytes in vitro. A MCK small intronic enhancer (MCK-SIE) containing a paired E-box/myocyte enhancer factor 2 (MEF2) regulatory motif resides within MR1. The SIE's transcriptional activity equals that of the extensively characterized 206-bp MCK 5'-enhancer, but the MCK-SIE is flanked by regions that can repress its activity via the individual and combined effects of about 15 different but highly conserved 9- to 24-bp sequences. ChIP and ChIP-Seq analyses indicate that the SIE and the MCK 5'-enhancer are occupied by MyoD, myogenin and MEF2. Many other E-boxes located within or immediately adjacent to intron 1 are not occupied by MyoD or myogenin. Transgenic analysis of a 6.5-kb MCK genomic fragment containing the 5'-enhancer and proximal promoter plus the 3.2-kb intron 1, with and without MR1, indicates that MR1 is critical for MCK expression in slow- and intermediate-twitch muscle fibers (types I and IIa, respectively), but is not required for expression in fast-twitch muscle fibers (types IIb and IId).
In this study, we discovered that MR1 is critical for MCK expression in slow- and intermediate-twitch muscle fibers and that MR1's positive transcriptional activity depends on a paired E-box MEF2 site motif within a SIE. This is the first study to delineate the DNA controls for MCK expression in different skeletal muscle fiber types.
PMCID: PMC3157005  PMID: 21797989
6.  KLF3 Regulates Muscle-Specific Gene Expression and Synergizes with Serum Response Factor on KLF Binding Sites▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2010;30(14):3430-3443.
This study identifies KLF3 as a transcriptional regulator of muscle genes and reveals a novel synergistic interaction between KLF3 and serum response factor (SRF). Using quantitative proteomics, KLF3 was identified as one of several candidate factors that recognize the MPEX control element in the Muscle creatine kinase (MCK) promoter. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis indicated that KLF3 is enriched at many muscle gene promoters (MCK, Myosin heavy chain IIa, Six4, Calcium channel receptor α-1, and Skeletal α-actin), and two KLF3 isoforms are upregulated during muscle differentiation. KLF3 and SRF physically associate and synergize in transactivating the MCK promoter independently of SRF binding to CArG motifs. The zinc finger and repression domains of KLF3 plus the MADS box and transcription activation domain of SRF are implicated in this synergy. Our results provide the first evidence of a role for KLF3 in muscle gene regulation and reveal an alternate mechanism for transcriptional regulation by SRF via its recruitment to KLF binding sites. Since both factors are expressed in all muscle lineages, SRF may regulate many striated- and smooth-muscle genes that lack known SRF control elements, thus further expanding the breadth of the emerging CArGome.
PMCID: PMC2897560  PMID: 20404088
7.  Interleukin-10 Prevents Diet-Induced Insulin Resistance by Attenuating Macrophage and Cytokine Response in Skeletal Muscle 
Diabetes  2009;58(11):2525-2535.
Insulin resistance is a major characteristic of type 2 diabetes and is causally associated with obesity. Inflammation plays an important role in obesity-associated insulin resistance, but the underlying mechanism remains unclear. Interleukin (IL)-10 is an anti-inflammatory cytokine with lower circulating levels in obese subjects, and acute treatment with IL-10 prevents lipid-induced insulin resistance. We examined the role of IL-10 in glucose homeostasis using transgenic mice with muscle-specific overexpression of IL-10 (MCK-IL10).
MCK-IL10 and wild-type mice were fed a high-fat diet (HFD) for 3 weeks, and insulin sensitivity was determined using hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamps in conscious mice. Biochemical and molecular analyses were performed in muscle to assess glucose metabolism, insulin signaling, and inflammatory responses.
MCK-IL10 mice developed with no obvious anomaly and showed increased whole-body insulin sensitivity. After 3 weeks of HFD, MCK-IL10 mice developed comparable obesity to wild-type littermates but remained insulin sensitive in skeletal muscle. This was mostly due to significant increases in glucose metabolism, insulin receptor substrate-1, and Akt activity in muscle. HFD increased macrophage-specific CD68 and F4/80 levels in wild-type muscle that was associated with marked increases in tumor necrosis factor-α, IL-6, and C-C motif chemokine receptor-2 levels. In contrast, MCK-IL10 mice were protected from diet-induced inflammatory response in muscle.
These results demonstrate that IL-10 increases insulin sensitivity and protects skeletal muscle from obesity-associated macrophage infiltration, increases in inflammatory cytokines, and their deleterious effects on insulin signaling and glucose metabolism. Our findings provide novel insights into the role of anti-inflammatory cytokine in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
PMCID: PMC2768157  PMID: 19690064
8.  Partial rescue of growth failure in growth hormone (GH)-deficient mice by a single injection of a double-stranded adeno-associated viral vector expressing the GH gene driven by a muscle-specific regulatory cassette 
Human gene therapy  2009;20(7):759-766.
Growth hormone (GH) deficiency (GHD) causes somatic growth impairment. GH has a very short half-life and therefore it has to be administered by daily subcutaneous injections. Adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors have been used to deliver genes to animals, and recently developed double stranded (ds)–AAV vectors provide widespread and stable transgene expression. In the present study we tested whether an intramuscular injection of ds-AAV vector expressing GH under the control of an M-creatine kinase regulatory cassette would assure sufficient systemic GH delivery in conjunction with muscle-specific expression.
Virus-injected GHD mice showed a significant (p<0.05) increase in body length and body weight, without reaching full normalization, and significant (p<0.05) reduction in absolute and relative visceral fat. Quantitative RT-PCR showed preferential GH expression in skeletal muscles that was confirmed by qualitative fluorescence analysis in mice injected with a similar virus expressing GFP.
The present study shows that systemic GH delivery to GHD animals is possible via a single intramuscular injection of dsAAV carrying a muscle-specific GH-expressing regulatory cassette.
PMCID: PMC2766423  PMID: 19298131
9.  Partial Rescue of Growth Failure in Growth Hormone (GH)-Deficient Mice by a Single Injection of a Double-Stranded Adeno-Associated Viral Vector Expressing the GH Gene Driven by a Muscle-Specific Regulatory Cassette 
Human Gene Therapy  2009;20(7):759-766.
Growth hormone (GH) deficiency (GHD) causes somatic growth impairment. GH has a short half-life and therefore it must be administered by daily subcutaneous injections. Adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors have been used to deliver genes to animals, and double-stranded AAV (dsAAV) vectors provide widespread and stable transgene expression. In the present study we tested whether an intramuscular injection of dsAAV vector expressing GH under the control of a muscle creatine kinase regulatory cassette would ensure sufficient systemic GH delivery in conjunction with muscle-specific expression. Virus-injected GHD mice showed a significant (p < 0.05) increase in body length and body weight, without reaching full normalization, and significant (p < 0.05) reduction in absolute and relative visceral fat. Quantitative RT-PCR showed preferential GH expression in skeletal muscles that was confirmed by qualitative fluorescence analysis in mice injected with a similar virus expressing green fluorescent protein. The present study shows that systemic GH delivery to GHD animals is possible via a single intramuscular injection of dsAAV carrying a muscle-specific GH-expressing regulatory cassette.
PMCID: PMC2766423  PMID: 19298131
10.  Correction of Multiple Striated Muscles in Murine Pompe Disease Through Adeno-associated Virus-Mediated Gene Therapy 
Glycogen storage disease type II (GSD-II; Pompe disease; MIM 232300) stems from the deficiency of acid-α-glucosidase (GAA; acid maltase; EC, which primarily involves cardiac and skeletal muscles. We hypothesized that systemic administration of an adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector containing a muscle specific regulatory cassette could drive efficacious transgene expression in GAA-knockout (GAA-KO) mice. AAV2/8 vectors containing the muscle creatine kinase (CK1) or hybrid α-myosin heavy chain enhancer-/muscle creatine kinase enhancer-promoter (MHCK7) cassettes were compared. The CK1 reduced glycogen content by approximately 50% in the heart and quadriceps, in comparison to untreated GAA-KO mice, whereas the MHCK7 containing vector reduced glycogen content even further: >95% in heart and >75% in the diaphragm and quadriceps. Administration of the MHCK7-containing vector significantly increased striated muscle function as assessed by increased Rotarod times at 18 weeks post-injection, whereas the CK1-containing vector did not increase Rotarod performance. Transduction efficiency was evaluated with an AAV2/8 vector in which MHCK7 drives alkaline-phosphatase, revealing that many more myofibers were transduced in the quadriceps than in the gastrocnemius. An AAV2/9 vector containing the MHCK7 cassette corrected GAA deficiency in the skeletal muscles of the distal limb, including the gastrocnemius, extensor digitalis longus, and soleus; furthermore, glycogen accumulations were substantially cleared by hGAA expression therein. Importantly, type IIb myofibers in the extensor digitalis longus were transduced, thereby correcting a myofiber type that is unresponsive to enzyme replacement therapy. In summary, AAV8 and AAV9-pseudotyped vectors containing the MHCK7 regulatory cassette achieved enhanced efficacy in Pompe disease mice.
PMCID: PMC2670546  PMID: 18560415
Glycogen storage disease type II; adeno-associated virus; acid alpha-glucosidase; acid maltase; Pompe disease
11.  Quantitative Proteomic Identification of MAZ as a Transcriptional Regulator of Muscle-Specific Genes in Skeletal and Cardiac Myocytes ▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2008;28(20):6521-6535.
We identified a conserved sequence within the Muscle creatine kinase (MCK) promoter that is critical for high-level activity in skeletal and cardiac myocytes (MCK Promoter Element X [MPEX]). After selectively enriching for MPEX-binding factor(s) (MPEX-BFs), ICAT-based quantitative proteomics was used to identify MPEX-BF candidates, one of which was MAZ (Myc-associated zinc finger protein). MAZ transactivates the MCK promoter and binds the MPEX site in vitro, and chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis demonstrates enrichment of MAZ at the endogenous MCK promoter and other muscle gene promoters (Skeletal α-actin, Desmin, and α-Myosin heavy chain) in skeletal and cardiac myocytes. Consistent with its role in muscle gene transcription, MAZ transcripts and DNA-binding activity are upregulated during skeletal myocyte differentiation. Furthermore, MAZ was shown to bind numerous sequences (e.g., CTCCTCCC and CTCCACCC) that diverge from the GA box binding motif. Alternate motifs were identified in many muscle promoters, including Myogenin and MEF2C, and one motif was shown to be critical for Six4 promoter activity in both skeletal and cardiac myocytes. Interestingly, MAZ occupies and is able to transactivate the Six4 promoter in skeletal but not cardiac myocytes. Taken together, these findings are consistent with a previously unrecognized role for MAZ in muscle gene regulation.
PMCID: PMC2577440  PMID: 18710939
12.  Quantitative Proteomic Identification of Six4 as the Trex-Binding Factor in the Muscle Creatine Kinase Enhancer 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2004;24(5):2132-2143.
Transcriptional regulatory element X (Trex) is a positive control site within the Muscle creatine kinase (MCK) enhancer. Cell culture and transgenic studies indicate that the Trex site is important for MCK expression in skeletal and cardiac muscle. After selectively enriching for the Trex-binding factor (TrexBF) using magnetic beads coupled to oligonucleotides containing either wild-type or mutant Trex sites, quantitative proteomics was used to identify TrexBF as Six4, a homeodomain transcription factor of the Six/sine oculis family, from a background of ∼900 copurifying proteins. Using gel shift assays and Six-specific antisera, we demonstrated that Six4 is TrexBF in mouse skeletal myocytes and embryonic day 10 chick skeletal and cardiac muscle, while Six5 is the major TrexBF in adult mouse heart. In cotransfection studies, Six4 transactivates the MCK enhancer as well as muscle-specific regulatory regions of Aldolase A and Cardiac troponin C via Trex/MEF3 sites. Our results are consistent with Six4 being a key regulator of muscle gene expression in adult skeletal muscle and in developing striated muscle. The Trex/MEF3 composite sequence ([C/A]ACC[C/T]GA) allowed us to identify novel putative Six-binding sites in six other muscle genes. Our proteomics strategy will be useful for identifying transcription factors from complex mixtures using only defined DNA fragments for purification.
PMCID: PMC350548  PMID: 14966291
13.  Electromechanical Coupling between Skeletal and Cardiac Muscle 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2000;149(3):731-740.
Skeletal myoblasts form grafts of mature muscle in injured hearts, and these grafts contract when exogenously stimulated. It is not known, however, whether cardiac muscle can form electromechanical junctions with skeletal muscle and induce its synchronous contraction. Here, we report that undifferentiated rat skeletal myoblasts expressed N-cadherin and connexin43, major adhesion and gap junction proteins of the intercalated disk, yet both proteins were markedly downregulated after differentiation into myo-tubes. Similarly, differentiated skeletal muscle grafts in injured hearts had no detectable N-cadherin or connexin43; hence, electromechanical coupling did not occur after in vivo grafting. In contrast, when neonatal or adult cardiomyocytes were cocultured with skeletal muscle, ∼10% of the skeletal myotubes contracted in synchrony with adjacent cardiomyocytes. Isoproterenol increased myotube contraction rates by 25% in coculture without affecting myotubes in monoculture, indicating the cardiomyocytes were the pacemakers. The gap junction inhibitor heptanol aborted myotube contractions but left spontaneous contractions of individual cardiomyocytes intact, suggesting myotubes were activated via gap junctions. Confocal microscopy revealed the expression of cadherin and connexin43 at junctions between myotubes and neonatal or adult cardiomyocytes in vitro. After microinjection, myotubes transferred dye to neonatal cardiomyocytes via gap junctions. Calcium imaging revealed synchronous calcium transients in cardiomyocytes and myotubes. Thus, cardiomyocytes can form electromechanical junctions with some skeletal myotubes in coculture and induce their synchronous contraction via gap junctions. Although the mechanism remains to be determined, if similar junctions could be induced in vivo, they might be sufficient to make skeletal muscle grafts beat synchronously with host myocardium.
PMCID: PMC2174851  PMID: 10791985
skeletal myocytes; cardiomyocytes; electromechanical coupling; N-cadherin; connexin43

Results 1-13 (13)