Explant cultures of Scl yolk sac plated on OP9 stroma produced individual beating cells already after 4 hours
(from video; credit: UCLA)

How to create beating heart muscle cells
October 15, 2012

UCLA stem-cell researchers have found for the first time a surprising and unexpected plasticity in the embryonic endothelium, the place where blood stem cells are made in early development.

They found that the lack of one transcription factor, a type of gene that controls cell fate (by regulating other genes), allows the precursors that normally generate blood stem and progenitor cells in blood-forming tissues to become something very unexpected — beating cardiomyocytes, or heart muscle cells.

The finding is important because it suggests that the endothelium can serve as a source of heart muscle cells. The finding may provide new understanding of how to make cardiac stem cells for use in regenerative medicine, said study senior author Dr. Hanna Mikkola, an associate professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology in Life Sciences and a researcher with the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA.

“It was absolutely unbelievable. These findings went beyond anything that we could have imagined,” Mikkola said. “The microenvironment in the embryonic vasculature that normally gives rise to blood cells can generate cardiac cells when only one factor, Scl, is removed, essentially converting a hematopoietic organ into a cardiogenic organ.”

Read more: How to create beating heart muscle cells | KurzweilAI.

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