Hypoxia supports reprogramming of mesenchymal stromal cells via induction of embryonic stem cell-specific microRNA-302 cluster and pluripotency-associated genes

Cell Reprogram. 2013 Feb;15(1):68-79. doi: 10.1089/cell.2012.0037. Epub 2012 Dec 20.


Pluripotency is characterized by specific transcription factors such as OCT4, NANOG, and SOX2, but also by pluripotency-associated microRNAs (miRs). Somatic cells can be reprogrammed by forced expression of these factors leading to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) with characteristics similar to embryonic stem cells (ESCs). However, current reprogramming strategies are commonly based on viral delivery of the pluripotency-associated factors, which affects the integrity of the genome and impedes the use of such cells in any clinical application. In an effort to establish nonviral, nonintegrating reprogramming strategies, we examined the influence of hypoxia on the expression of pluripotency-associated factors and the ESC-specific miR-302 cluster in primary and immortalized mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs). The combination of hypoxia and fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2) treatments led to the induction of OCT4 and NANOG in an immortalized cell line L87 and primary MSCs, accompanied with increased doubling rates and decreased senescence. Most importantly, the endogenous ECS-specific cluster miR-302 was induced upon hypoxic culture and FGF2 supplementation. Hypoxia also improved reprogramming of MSCs via episomal expression of pluripotency factors. Thus, our data illustrate that hypoxia in combination with FGF2 supplementation efficiently facilitates reprogramming of MSCs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Dedifferentiation*
  • Cell Hypoxia / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Transformed
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / cytology
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2 / pharmacology
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • MicroRNAs / biosynthesis*
  • Multigene Family*
  • Nanog Homeobox Protein
  • Octamer Transcription Factor-3 / metabolism
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / metabolism*


  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • MIRN302A microRNA, human
  • MicroRNAs
  • NANOG protein, human
  • Nanog Homeobox Protein
  • Octamer Transcription Factor-3
  • POU5F1 protein, human
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2