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Reprogramming of fibroblasts to induced cardiomyocyte-like cells (iCMs) offers potential strategies for new cardiomyocyte generation. However, a major challenge of this approach remains its low efficiency for contractile iCMs. Here, we showed that controlled stoichiometric expression of Gata4 (G), Hand2 (H), Mef2c (M), and Tbx5 (T) significantly enhanced contractile cardiomyocyte reprogramming over previously defined stoichiometric expression of GMT or uncontrolled expression of GHMT. We generated quad-cistronic vectors expressing distinct relative protein levels of GHMT within the context of a previously defined splicing order of M-G-T with high Mef2c level. Transduction of the quad-cistronic vector with a splicing order of M-G-T-H (referred to as M-G-T-H) inducing relatively low Hand2 and high Mef2c protein levels not only increased sarcomeric protein induction, but also markedly promoted the development of contractile structures and functions in fibroblasts. The expressed Gata4 and Tbx5 protein levels by M-G-T-H transduction were relatively higher than those by transductions of other quad-cistronic vectors, but lower than those by previously defined M-G-T tri-cistronic vector transduction. Taken together, our results demonstrate the stoichiometric requirement of GHMT expression for structural and functional progresses of cardiomyocyte reprogramming and provide a new basic tool-set for future studies.
Background α Carboxyl terminus 1 (αCT1) is a 25-amino acid therapeutic peptide incorporating the zonula occludens-1 (ZO-1)-binding domain of connexin 43 (Cx43) that is currently in phase 3 clinical testing on chronic wounds. In mice, we reported that αCT1 reduced arrhythmias after cardiac injury, accompanied by increases in protein kinase Cε phosphorylation of Cx43 at serine 368. Herein, we characterize detailed molecular mode of action of αCT1 in mitigating cardiac ischemia-reperfusion injury. Methods and Results To study αCT1-mediated increases in phosphorylation of Cx43 at serine 368, we undertook mass spectrometry of protein kinase Cε phosphorylation assay reactants. This indicated potential interaction between negatively charged residues in the αCT1 Asp-Asp-Leu-Glu-Iso sequence and lysines (Lys345, Lys346) in an α-helical sequence (helix 2) within the Cx43-CT. In silico modeling provided further support for this interaction, indicating that αCT1 may interact with both Cx43 and ZO-1. Using surface plasmon resonance, thermal shift, and phosphorylation assays, we characterized a series of αCT1 variants, identifying peptides that interacted with either ZO-1-postsynaptic density-95/disks large/zonula occludens-1 2 or Cx43-CT, but with limited or no ability to bind both molecules. Only peptides competent to interact with Cx43-CT, but not ZO-1-postsynaptic density-95/disks large/zonula occludens-1 2 alone, prompted increased pS368 phosphorylation. Moreover, in an ex vivo mouse model of ischemia-reperfusion injury, preischemic infusion only with those peptides competent to bind Cx43 preserved ventricular function after ischemia-reperfusion. Interestingly, a short 9-amino acid variant of αCT1 (αCT11) demonstrated potent cardioprotective effects when infused either before or after ischemic injury. Conclusions Interaction of αCT1 with the Cx43, but not ZO-1, is correlated with cardioprotection. Pharmacophores targeting Cx43-CT could provide a translational approach to preserving heart function after ischemic injury.
BACKGROUND - Global longitudinal strain (GLS), reflecting total shortening of the myocardium during the cardiac cycle, has emerged as a more precise myocardial function measure than left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF). Longitudinal strain may be selectively affected in subclinical heart disease, even in the presence of normal LVEF. This study examines subclinical cardiac dysfunction, assessed by GLS and LVEF, and cognition among older adults.
METHODS AND RESULTS - Vanderbilt Memory and Aging Project participants who were free of clinical dementia, stroke, and heart failure (n=318, 73±7 years, 58% male) completed neuropsychological assessment and cardiac magnetic resonance to quantify GLS and LVEF. Linear regression models related GLS and LVEF to neuropsychological performances, adjusting for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, Framingham Stroke Risk Profile, cognitive diagnosis, and *ε4 status. Models were repeated with a cardiac×cognitive diagnosis interaction term. Compromised GLS (reflected by higher values) related to worse naming (β=-0.07, =0.04), visuospatial immediate recall (β=-0.83, =0.03), visuospatial delayed recall (β=-0.22, =0.03), and verbal delayed recall (β=-0.11, =0.007). LVEF did not relate to worse performance on any measure (>0.18). No diagnostic interactions were observed.
CONCLUSIONS - Our study results are among the first to suggest that compromised GLS relates to worse episodic memory and language performance among older adults who are free of clinical dementia, stroke, and heart failure. Subclinical cardiac dysfunction may correlate with cognitive health in late life, even when LVEF remains normal. The results add to growing evidence that GLS may be a more sensitive and preferred method for quantifying subclinical changes in cardiac function.
© 2018 The Authors. Published on behalf of the American Heart Association, Inc., by Wiley.
RATIONALE - The lack of measurable single-cell contractility of human-induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiac myocytes (hiPSC-CMs) currently limits the utility of hiPSC-CMs for evaluating contractile performance for both basic research and drug discovery.
OBJECTIVE - To develop a culture method that rapidly generates contracting single hiPSC-CMs and allows quantification of cell shortening with standard equipment used for studying adult CMs.
METHODS AND RESULTS - Single hiPSC-CMs were cultured for 5 to 7 days on a 0.4- to 0.8-mm thick mattress of undiluted Matrigel (mattress hiPSC-CMs) and compared with hiPSC-CMs maintained on a control substrate (<0.1-mm thick 1:60 diluted Matrigel, control hiPSC-CMs). Compared with control hiPSC-CMs, mattress hiPSC-CMs had more rod-shape morphology and significantly increased sarcomere length. Contractile parameters of mattress hiPSC-CMs measured with video-based edge detection were comparable with those of freshly isolated adult rabbit ventricular CMs. Morphological and contractile properties of mattress hiPSC-CMs were consistent across cryopreserved hiPSC-CMs generated independently at another institution. Unlike control hiPSC-CMs, mattress hiPSC-CMs display robust contractile responses to positive inotropic agents, such as myofilament calcium sensitizers. Mattress hiPSC-CMs exhibit molecular changes that include increased expression of the maturation marker cardiac troponin I and significantly increased action potential upstroke velocity because of a 2-fold increase in sodium current (INa).
CONCLUSIONS - The Matrigel mattress method enables the rapid generation of robustly contracting hiPSC-CMs and enhances maturation. This new method allows quantification of contractile performance at the single-cell level, which should be valuable to disease modeling, drug discovery, and preclinical cardiotoxicity testing.
© 2015 American Heart Association, Inc.
Cardiomyocytes derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC-CMs) hold great promise for modeling human heart diseases. However, iPSC-CMs studied to date resemble immature embryonic myocytes and therefore do not adequately recapitulate native adult cardiomyocyte phenotypes. Since extracellular matrix plays an essential role in heart development and maturation in vivo, we sought to develop a synthetic culture matrix that could enhance functional maturation of iPSC-CMs in vitro. In this study, we employed a library of combinatorial polymers comprising of three functional subunits - poly-ε-caprolacton (PCL), polyethylene glycol (PEG), and carboxylated PCL (cPCL) - as synthetic substrates for culturing human iPSC-CMs. Of these, iPSC-CMs cultured on 4%PEG-96%PCL (each % indicates the corresponding molar ratio) exhibit the greatest contractility and mitochondrial function. These functional enhancements are associated with increased expression of cardiac myosin light chain-2v, cardiac troponin I and integrin alpha-7. Importantly, iPSC-CMs cultured on 4%PEG-96%PCL demonstrate troponin I (TnI) isoform switch from the fetal slow skeletal TnI (ssTnI) to the postnatal cardiac TnI (cTnI), the first report of such transition in vitro. Finally, culturing iPSC-CMs on 4%PEG-96%PCL also significantly increased expression of genes encoding intermediate filaments known to transduce integrin-mediated mechanical signals to the myofilaments. In summary, our study demonstrates that synthetic culture matrices engineered from combinatorial polymers can be utilized to promote in vitro maturation of human iPSC-CMs through the engagement of critical matrix-integrin interactions.
Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Serotonin and glutamate are neurotransmitters that in insects are involved in diverse physiological processes. Both serotonin and glutamate have been shown to modulate the physiology of the dorsal vessel of some insects, yet until the present study, their activity in mosquitoes remained unknown. To test whether serotonin or glutamate regulate dorsal vessel physiology in the African malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae, live mosquitoes were restrained, and a video of the contracting heart (the abdominal portion of the dorsal vessel) was acquired. These adult female mosquitoes were then injected with various amounts of serotonin, glutamate, or a control vehicle solution, and additional videos were acquired at 2 and 10 min post-treatment. Comparison of the videos taken before and after treatment revealed that serotonin accelerates the frequency of heart contractions, with the cardioacceleration being significantly more pronounced when the wave-like contractions of cardiac muscle propagate in the anterograde direction (toward the head). Comparison of the videos taken before and after treatment with glutamate revealed that this molecule is also cardioacceleratory. However, unlike serotonin, the activity of glutamate does not depend on whether the contractions propagate in the anterograde or the retrograde (toward the posterior of the abdomen) directions. Serotonin or glutamate induces a minor change or no change in the percentage of contractions and the percentage of the time that the heart contracts in the anterograde or the retrograde directions. In summary, this study shows that the neurotransmitters serotonin and glutamate increase the heart contraction rate of mosquitoes.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Cardiomyocytes (CMs) derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) are being increasingly used to model human heart diseases. hiPSC-CMs generated by earlier aggregation-based methods (i.e., embryoid body) often lack functional sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca stores characteristic of mature mammalian CMs. Newer monolayer-based cardiac differentiation methods (i.e., Matrigel sandwich or small molecule-based differentiation) produce hiPSC-CMs of high purity and yield, but their Ca handling has not been comprehensively investigated. Here, we studied Ca handling and cytosolic Ca buffering properties of hiPSC-CMs generated independently from multiple hiPSC lines at Stanford University, Vanderbilt University and University of Wisconsin-Madison. hiPSC-CMs were cryopreserved at each university. Frozen aliquots were shipped, recovered from cryopreservation, plated at low density and compared 3-5days after plating with acutely-isolated adult rabbit and mouse ventricular CMs. Although hiPSC-CM cell volume was significantly smaller, cell capacitance to cell volume ratio and cytoplasmic Ca buffering were not different from rabbit-CMs. hiPSC-CMs from all three laboratories exhibited robust L-type Ca currents, twitch Ca transients and caffeine-releasable SR Ca stores comparable to adult CMs. Ca transport by sarcoendoplasmic reticulum Ca ATPase (SERCA) and Na/Ca exchanger (NCX) was similar in all hiPSC-CM lines, but slower compared to rabbit-CMs. However, the relative contribution of SERCA and NCX to Ca transport of hiPSC-CMs was comparable to rabbit-CMs. Ca handling maturity of hiPSC-CMs increased from 15 to 21days post-induction. We conclude that hiPSC-CMs generated independently from multiple iPSC lines using monolayer-based methods can be reproducibly recovered from cryopreservation and exhibit comparable and functional SR Ca handling.
Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
BACKGROUND - Neuregulin-1β (NRG-1β) is a growth factor critical for cardiac development and repair with therapeutic potential for heart failure. We previously showed that the glial growth factor 2 (GGF2) isoform of NRG-1β improves cardiac function in rodents after myocardial infarction (MI), but its efficacy in a large animal model of cardiac injury has not been examined. We therefore sought to examine the effects of GGF2 on ventricular remodeling, cardiac function, and global transcription in post-MI swine, as well as potential mechanisms for anti-remodeling effects.
METHODS AND RESULTS - MI was induced in anesthetized swine (n=23) by intracoronary balloon occlusion. At 1 week post-MI, survivors (n=13) received GGF2 treatment (intravenous, biweekly for 4 weeks; n=8) or were untreated (n=5). At 5 weeks post-MI, fractional shortening was higher (32.8% versus 25.3%, P=0.019), and left ventricular (LV) end-diastolic dimension lower (4.5 versus 5.3 cm, P=0.003) in GGF2-treated animals. Treatment altered expression of 528 genes, as measured by microarrays, including collagens, basal lamina components, and matricellular proteins. GGF2-treated pigs exhibited improvements in LV cardiomyocyte mitochondria and intercalated disk structures and showed less fibrosis, altered matrix structure, and fewer myofibroblasts (myoFbs), based on trichrome staining, electron microscopy, and immunostaining. In vitro experiments with isolated murine and rat cardiac fibroblasts demonstrate that NRG-1β reduces myoFbs, and suppresses TGFβ-induced phospho-SMAD3 as well as αSMA expression.
CONCLUSIONS - These results suggest that GGF2/NRG-1β prevents adverse remodeling after injury in part via anti-fibrotic effects in the heart.
© 2014 The Authors. Published on behalf of the American Heart Association, Inc., by Wiley Blackwell.
Cardiomyocytes, the workhorse cell of the heart, contain exquisitely organized cytoskeletal and contractile elements that generate the contractile force used to pump blood. Individual cardiomyocytes were first isolated over 40 years ago in order to better study the physiology and structure of heart muscle. Techniques have rapidly improved to include enzymatic digestion via coronary perfusion. More recently, analyzing the contractility and calcium flux of isolated myocytes has provided a vital tool in the cellular and sub-cellular analysis of heart failure. Echocardiography and EKGs provide information about the heart at an organ level only. Cardiomyocyte cell culture systems exist, but cells lack physiologically essential structures such as organized sarcomeres and t-tubules required for myocyte function within the heart. In the protocol presented here, cardiomyocytes are isolated via Langendorff perfusion. The heart is removed from the mouse, mounted via the aorta to a cannula, perfused with digestion enzymes, and cells are introduced to increasing calcium concentrations. Edge and sarcomere detection software is used to analyze contractility, and a calcium binding fluorescent dye is used to visualize calcium transients of electrically paced cardiomyocytes; increasing understanding of the role cellular changes play in heart dysfunction. Traditionally used to test drug effects on cardiomyocytes, we employ this system to compare myocytes from WT mice and mice with a mutation that causes dilated cardiomyopathy. This protocol is unique in its comparison of live cells from mice with known heart function and known genetics. Many experimental conditions are reliably compared, including genetic or environmental manipulation, infection, drug treatment, and more. Beyond physiologic data, isolated cardiomyocytes are easily fixed and stained for cytoskeletal elements. Isolating cardiomyocytes via perfusion is an extremely versatile method, useful in studying cellular changes that accompany or lead to heart failure in a variety of experimental conditions.
FMRFamide-like peptides (FLPs) are produced by invertebrate and vertebrate animals, and regulate diverse physiological processes. In insects, several FLPs modulate heart physiology, with some increasing and others decreasing dorsal vessel contraction dynamics. Here, we describe the FMRFamide gene structure in the mosquito, Anopheles gambiae, quantify the developmental and spatial expression of FMRFamide and its putative receptor (FMRFamideR), and show that the peptides FMRFamide and SALDKNFMRFamide have complex myotropic properties. RACE sequencing showed that the FMRFamide gene encodes eight putative FLPs and is alternatively spliced. Of the eight FLPs, only one is shared by A. gambiae, Aedes aegypti and Culex quinquefasciatus: SALDKNFMRFamide. Quantitative PCR showed that peak expression of FMRFamide and FMRFamideR occurs in second instar larvae and around eclosion. In adults, FMRFamide is primarily transcribed in the head and thorax, and FMRFamideR is primarily transcribed in the thorax. Intravital video imaging of mosquitoes injected FMRFamide and SALDKNFMRFamide revealed that at low doses these peptides increase heart contraction rates. At high doses, however, these peptides decrease heart contraction rates and alter the proportional directionality of heart contractions. Taken altogether, these data describe the FMRFamide gene in A. gambiae, and show that FLPs are complex modulators of mosquito circulatory physiology.
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.