Cellular reprogramming employing recombinant sox2 protein

Stem Cells Int. 2012;2012:549846. doi: 10.1155/2012/549846. Epub 2012 May 29.


Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells represent an attractive option for the derivation of patient-specific pluripotent cells for cell replacement therapies as well as disease modeling. To become clinically meaningful, safe iPS cells need to be generated exhibiting no permanent genetic modifications that are caused by viral integrations of the reprogramming transgenes. Recently, various experimental strategies have been applied to accomplish transgene-free derivation of iPS cells, including the use of nonintegrating viruses, episomal expression, or excision of transgenes after reprogramming by site-specific recombinases or transposases. A straightforward approach to induce reprogramming factors is the direct delivery of either synthetic mRNA or biologically active proteins. We previously reported the generation of cell-permeant versions of Oct4 (Oct4-TAT) and Sox2 (Sox2-TAT) proteins and showed that Oct4-TAT is reprogramming-competent, that is, it can substitute for Oct4-encoding virus. Here, we explore conditions for enhanced Sox2-TAT protein stabilization and functional delivery into somatic cells. We show that cell-permeant Sox2 protein can be stabilized by lipid-rich albumin supplements in serum replacement or low-serum-supplemented media. Employing optimized conditions for protein delivery, we demonstrate that Sox2-TAT protein is able to substitute for viral Sox2. Sox2-piPS cells express pluripotency-associated markers and differentiate into all three germ layers.