Monday, June 3, 2013

Laser patterning for the study of MSC cardiogenic differentiation at the single-cell level

Zhen Ma, Qiuying Liu, Huaxiao Yang, Raymond B Runyan, Carol A Eisenberg, Meifeng Xu, Thomas K Borg, Roger Markwald, Yifei Wang and Bruce Z Gao
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been cited as contributors to heart repair through cardiogenic differentiation and multiple cellular interactions, including the paracrine effect, cell fusion, and mechanical and electrical couplings. Due to heart–muscle complexity, progress in the development of knowledge concerning the role of MSCs in cardiac repair is heavily based on MSC–cardiomyocyte coculture. In conventional coculture systems, however, the in vivo cardiac muscle structure, in which rod-shaped cells are connected end-to-end, is not sustained; instead, irregularly shaped cells spread randomly, resulting in randomly distributed cell junctions. Consequently, contact-mediated cell–cell interactions (e.g., the electrical triggering signal and the mechanical contraction wave that propagate through MSC–cardiomyocyte junctions) occur randomly. Thus, the data generated on the beneficial effects of MSCs may be irrelevant to in vivo biological processes. In this study, we explored whether cardiomyocyte alignment, the most important phenotype, is relevant to stem cell cardiogenic differentiation. Here, we report (i) the construction of a laser-patterned, biochip-based, stem cell–cardiomyocyte coculture model with controlled cell alignment; and (ii) single-cell-level data on stem cell cardiogenic differentiation under in vivo-like cardiomyocyte alignment conditions.
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