Several studies have demonstrated the possibility to revert differentiation process, reactivating hypermethylated genes and facilitating cell transition to a different lineage. Beside the epigenetic mechanisms driving cell conversion processes, growing evidences highlight the importance of mechanical forces in supporting cell plasticity and boosting differentiation.
In this paper the Authors describe epigenetic erasing and conversion of dermal fibroblasts into insulin-producing cells (EpiCC), and demonstrate that the use of a low-stiffness substrate positively influences these processes.
The results show a higher expression of pluripotency genes and a significant bigger decrease of DNA methylation levels in 5-azacytidine (5-aza-CR) treated cells plated on soft matrix, compared to those cultured on plastic dishes. Furthermore, the use of low-stiffness also induces a significant increased up-regulation of ten-eleven translocation 2 (Tet2) and histone acetyltransferase 1 (Hat1) genes, and more decreased histone deacetylase enzyme1 (Hdac1) transcription levels. The soft substrate also encourages morphological changes, actin cytoskeleton re-organization, and the activation of the Hippo signaling pathway, leading to yes-associated protein (YAP) phosphorylation and its cytoplasmic translocation.
Altogether, this results in increased epigenetic conversion efficiency and in EpiCC acquisition of a mono-hormonal phenotype. Findings indicate that mechano-transduction related responsed influence cell plasticity induced by 5-aza-CR and improve fibroblast differentiation toward the pancreatic lineage.
- Pennarossa G, Santoro R, Manzoni EFM, Pesce M, Gandolfi F, Brevini TAL. Epigenetic Erasing and Pancreatic Differentiation of Dermal Fibroblasts into Insulin-Producing Cells are Boosted by the Use of Low-Stiffness Substrate. Stem Cell Rev 2017 Dec 28. doi: 10.1007/s12015-017-9799-0. [Epub ahead of print] Go to PubMed