Rationale: Cardiac progenitor cells (CPCs) in the adult heart are used for cell-based treatment of myocardial damage, but factors determining stemness, self-renewal, and lineage commitment are poorly understood. Immortal DNA strands inherited through asymmetric chromatid segregation correlate with self-renewal of adult stem cells, but the capacity of CPCs for asymmetric segregation to retain immortal strands is unknown. Cardioprotective kinase Pim-1 increases asymmetric cell division in vivo, but the ability of Pim-1 to enhance asymmetric chromatid segregation is unknown.
Objective: We aimed to demonstrate immortal strand segregation in CPCs and the enhancement of asymmetric chromatid distribution by Pim-1 kinase.
Methods and results: Asymmetric segregation is tracked by incorporation of bromodeoxyuridine. The CPC DNA was labeled for several generations and then blocked in second cytokinesis during chase to determine distribution of immortal versus newly synthesized strands. Intensity ratios of binucleated CPCs with bromodeoxyuridine of ≥70:30 between daughter nuclei indicative of asymmetric chromatid segregation occur with a frequency of 4.57, and asymmetric chromatid segregation is demonstrated at late mitotic phases. Asymmetric chromatid segregation is significantly enhanced by Pim-1 overexpression in CPCs (9.19 versus 4.79 in eGFP-expressing cells; P=0.006).
Conclusions: Asymmetric segregation of chromatids in CPCs is increased nearly two-fold with Pim-1 kinase overexpression, indicating that Pim-1 promotes self-renewal of stem cells.