Suppression of pro-fibrotic signaling potentiates factor-mediated reprogramming of mouse embryonic fibroblasts into induced cardiomyocytes

Andrew S. Riching, Yuanbiao Zhao, Yingqiong Cao, Pilar Londono, Hongyan Xu, Kunhua Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Trans-differentiation of one somatic cell type into another has enormous potential to model and treat human diseases. Previous studies have shown that mouse embryonic, dermal, and cardiac fibroblasts can be reprogrammed into functional induced-cardiomyocyte-like cells (iCMs) through overexpression of cardiogenic transcription factors including GATA4, Hand2, Mef2c, and Tbx5 both in vitro and in vivo. However, these previous studies have shown relatively low efficiency. In order to restore heart function following injury, mechanisms governing cardiac reprogramming must be elucidated to increase efficiency and maturation of iCMs. We previously demonstrated that inhibition of pro-fibrotic signaling dramatically increases reprogramming efficiency. Here, we detail methods to achieve a reprogramming efficiency of up to 60%. Furthermore, we describe several methods including flow cytometry, immunofluorescent imaging, and calcium imaging to quantify reprogramming efficiency and maturation of reprogrammed fibroblasts. Using the protocol detailed here, mechanistic studies can be undertaken to determine positive and negative regulators of cardiac reprogramming. These studies may identify signaling pathways that can be targeted to promote reprogramming efficiency and maturation, which could lead to novel cell therapies to treat human heart disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere57687
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number136
StatePublished - Jun 3 2018


  • Cardiac reprogramming
  • Compound
  • Developmental Biology
  • Issue 136
  • MicroRNAs
  • Pro-fibrotic signaling
  • TGF-β receptor 1 inhibitor
  • Transcription factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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