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In Vitro and In Vivo Tetracycline-Controlled Myogenic Conversion of NIH-3T3 Cells: Evidence of Programmed Cell Death After Muscle Cell Transplantation

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Ex vivo gene therapy of Duchenne muscular dystrophy based on autologous transplantation of genetically modified myoblasts is limited by their premature senescence. MyoD-converted fibroblasts represent an alternative source of myogenic cells. In this study the forced MyoD-dependent conversion of murine NIH-3T3 fibroblasts into myoblasts under the control of an inducible promoter silent in the presence of tetracycline was evaluated. After tetracycline withdrawal this promoter drives the transcription of MyoD in the engineered fibroblasts, inducing their myogenesis and giving rise to β-galactosidase-positive cells. MyoD-expressing fibroblasts withdrew from the cell cycle, but were unable to fuse in vitro into multinucleated myotubes. Five days following implantation of engineered fibroblasts in muscles of C57BL/10J mice we observed a sevenfold increase of β-galactosidase-positive regenerating myofibers in animals not treated with antibiotic compared with treated animals. After 1 week the number of positive fibers decreased and several apoptotic myonuclei were detected. Three weeks following implantation of MyoD-converted fibroblasts in recipient mice, no positive “blue” fiber was observed. Our results suggest that transactivation by tetracycline of MyoD may drive an in vivo myogenic conversion of NIH-3T3 fibroblasts and that, in this experimental setting, apoptosis plays a relevant role in limiting the efficacy of engineered fibroblast transplantation. This work opens the question whether apoptotic phenomena also play a general role as limiting factors of cell-mediated gene therapy of inherited muscle disorders.

Keywords: Cell tr; Key words: Inducible promoter; Myogenesis

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: *Dino Ferrari Center, Institute of Clinical Neurology, University of Milan, 20122 Milan, Italy 2: †IRCCS Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, 20122 Milan, Italy 3: ‡IRCCS Eugenio Medea, Associazione “La Nostra Famiglia,” 23842 Bosisio Parini, Italy

Publication date: January 1, 2001

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  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.

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