Author(s): Lahmy R, Soleimani M, Sanati MH, Behmanesh M, Kouhkan F,
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Abstract Islet transplantation is considered as an ultimate option for the treatment of type I diabetes. Human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) have raised the possibility that patient-specific insulin-secreting cells might be derived from somatic cells through cell fate reprogramming. However, current protocols mostly rely on the use of several cytokines and inhibitors for directing differentiation towards pancreatic fate. Given the high manufacturing cost of these recombinant proteins, this approach is prohibitive for clinical applications. Knowing that microRNAs (miRNAs) are key players in various stages of pancreatic development, we present a novel and cost-effective strategy in which over-expression of miR-375 promotes pancreatic differentiation in hiPSCs in the absence of any other stimulator. We used a polycistronic viral vector expressing Sox2, Klf4, c-Myc, and Oct4 to drive hiPSCs from human foreskin fibroblasts. The established hiPSCs are similar to human embryonic stem cells in many aspects including morphology, passaging, surface and pluripotency markers, and gene expression. For differentiation induction, miR-375 was lentivirally overexpressed in these hiPSCs. Morphological assessment, immunocytochemistry, and expression analysis of islet marker genes confirmed that islet like cells were obtained in miR-375 transduced cells compared to controls. Our differentiated clusters secreted insulin in a glucose-dependant manner, showing in vitro functionality. We demonstrated for the first time that miRNAs might be ideal substitutes to induce pancreatic differentiation in hiPSCs. This work provides a new approach to study the role of miRNAs in pancreatic specification and increase the feasibility of using patient-specific iPSCs for beta cell replacement therapy for type I diabetes.
This article was published in Mol Biol Rep
and referenced in Journal of Stem Cell Research & Therapy