Scientific reports

Small RNA-directed epigenetic programming of embryonic stem cell cardiac differentiation.

PMID 28165496


Microinjection of small noncoding RNAs in one-cell embryos was reported in several instances to result in transcriptional activation of target genes. To determine the molecular mechanisms involved and to explore whether such epigenetic regulations could play a role in early development, we used a cell culture system as close as possible to the embryonic state. We report efficient cardiac differentiation of embryonic stem (ES) cells induced by small non-coding RNAs with sequences of Cdk9, a key player in cardiomyocyte differentiation. Transfer of oligoribonucleotides representing parts of the Cdk9 mRNA into ES and mouse embryo fibroblast cultures resulted in upregulation of transcription. Dependency on Argonaute proteins and endogenous antisense transcripts indicated that the inducer oligoribonucleotides were processed by the RNAi machinery. Upregulation of Cdk9 expression resulted in increased efficiency of cardiac differentiation suggesting a potential tool for stem cell-based regenerative medicine.

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