Reprogramming of Pig Dermal Fibroblast into Insulin Secreting Cells by a Brief Exposure to 5-aza-cytidine
Large animal models provide useful data for pre-clinical research including regenerative medicine. However whereas the derivation of tissue specific stem cells has been successful. pluripotent stem cells so far have been difficult to obtain in these species. A possible alternative could be direct reprogramming but this has only been described in mouse and human. We have recently described an alternative method for reprogramming human somatic cells based on a brief demethylation step immediately followed by an induction protocol. Aim of the present paper was to determine whether this method is applicable to pig in the attempt to achieve cell reprogramming in a large animal model for the first time. Pig dermal fibroblasts were exposed to DNA methyltransferase inhibitor 5-aza-cytidine (5-aza-CR) for 18 h. After a brief recovery period, fibroblast were subjected to a three-step protocol for the induction of endocrine pancreatic differentiation that was completed after 42 days. During the process pig fibroblast rapidly lost their typical elongated form and gradually became organized in a reticular pattern that evolved into distinct cell aggregates. After a brief expression of some pluripotency genes, cells expression pattern mimicked the transition from primitive endoderm to endocrine pancreas. Not only converted cells expressed insulin but were able to release it in response to a physiological glucose challenge in vitro. Finally they were able to protect recipient mice against streptozotocin-induced diabetes. This work shows, that the conversion of a somatic cell into another, even if belonging to a different germ layer, is possible also in pig.
KeywordsPre-clinical model Epigenetic conversion Diabetes
Funded by NetLiPS Project ID 30190629 and Carraresi Foundation. GP was supported by Istituto Nazionale Genetica Molecolare (INGM). We thank Valentina Castiglioni for help with flow cytometry. The authors are members of the COST Action FA1201 Epiconcept: Epigenetics and Periconception environment.
Conflicts of Interest
The authors declare no potential conflicts of interest.
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