Journal of molecular and cellular cardiology

Uniaxial cyclic stretch stimulates TRPV4 to induce realignment of human embryonic stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes.

PMID 26259779


Human pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hPSC-CMs) in culture are randomly organized and do not typically show directional alignment. In the present study, we used uniaxial cyclic stretch to facilitate the alignment of cultured human embryonic stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hESC-CMs), so that these cells can be more adult-like for potential future application in drug screening and in vitro studies of cardiac function. We then explored the functional role of mechanosensitive TRPV4 channels in cyclic stretch-induced realignment of hESC-CMs. RT-PCR, immunoblots and immunostaining detected TRPV4 expression in these cells. 4α-phorbol 12,13-didecanoate (4α-PDD), a TRPV4 agonist, elicited a cytosolic Ca(2+) ([Ca(2+)]i) rise, the effect of which was abolished by TRPV4 inhibitors RN1734 and HC067047, and a TRPV4 dominant negative construct. These results confirmed the functional presence of TRPV4 in these cells. Importantly, longitudinal stretch was found to induce a [Ca(2+)]i rise, the effect of which was inhibited by TRPV4 antagonists. Furthermore, uniaxial cyclic stretch for 2h induced realignment of hESC-CMs in the direction transverse to the direction of stretch, the effect of which was also abolished by TRPV4 antagonists. Akt phosphorylation was found to be a downstream signal of TRPV4. Taken together, these data strongly suggest endogenous TRPV4 channels as a mechanosensor, mediating cyclic stretch-induced realignment of hESC-CMs.