Direct reprogramming of one cell type into another has recently emerged as a powerful paradigm for regenerative medicine, disease modeling, and lineage specification. In particular, the conversion of fibroblasts into induced cardiomyocyte-like myocytes (iCLMs) by Gata4, Hand2, Mef2c, and Tbx5 (GHMT) represents an important avenue for generating de novo cardiac myocytes in vitro and in vivo. Recent evidence suggests that GHMT generates a greater diversity of cardiac subtypes than previously appreciated, thus underscoring the need for a systematic approach to conducting additional studies. Before direct reprogramming can be used as a therapeutic strategy, however, the mechanistic underpinnings of lineage conversion must be understood in detail to generate specific cardiac subtypes. Here we present a detailed protocol for generating iCLMs by GHMT-mediated reprogramming of mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs). We outline methods for MEF isolation, retroviral production, and MEF infection to accomplish efficient reprogramming. To determine the subtype identity of reprogrammed cells, we detail a step-by-step approach for performing immunocytochemistry on iCLMs using a defined set of compatible antibodies. Methods for confocal microscopy, identification, and quantification of iCLMs and individual atrial (iAM), ventricular (iVM), and pacemaker (iPM) subtypes are also presented. Finally, we discuss representative results of prototypical direct reprogramming experiments and highlight important technical aspects of our protocol to ensure efficient lineage conversion. Taken together, our optimized protocol should provide a stepwise approach for investigators to conduct meaningful cardiac reprogramming experiments that require identification of individual CM subtypes.
- Developmental biology
- Direct reprogramming
- Issue 121
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Chemical Engineering(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)