Role of Nonmuscle Myosin II in Migration of Wharton's Jelly-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells

Stem Cells Dev. 2015 Sep 1;24(17):2065-77. doi: 10.1089/scd.2015.0095. Epub 2015 Jun 4.


It is the promise of regeneration and therapeutic applications that has sparked an interest in mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). Following infusion, MSCs migrate to sites of injury or inflammation by virtue of their homing property. To exert optimal clinical benefits, systemically delivered MSCs need to migrate efficiently and in adequate numbers to pathological areas in vivo. However, underlying molecular mechanisms responsible for MSC migration are still not well understood. The Wharton's jelly (WJ) of the umbilical cord is an attractive source of MSCs for stem cell therapy because of its abundant availability and painless collection. In this study, we attempted to identify the role of nonmuscle myosin II (NMII), if any, in the migration of WJ-derived MSCs (WJ-MSCs). Expression of NMII isoforms, NMIIA, and NMIIB was observed both at RNA and protein levels in WJ-MSCs. Inhibition of NMII or its regulator ROCK, by pharmacological inhibitors, resulted in significant reduction in the migration of WJ-MSCs as confirmed by the scratch migration assay and time-lapse microscopy. Next, trying to dissect the role of each NMII isoform in migration of WJ-MSCs, we found that siRNA-mediated downregulation of NMIIA, but not NMIIB expression, led to cells failing to retract their trailing edge and losing cell-cell cohesiveness, while exhibiting a nondirectional migratory pathway. Migration, moreover, is also dependent on optimal affinity adhesion, which would allow rapid attachment and release of cells and, hence, can be influenced by extracellular matrix (ECM) and adhesion molecules. We demonstrated that inhibition of NMII and more specifically NMIIA resulted in increased gene expression of ECM and adhesion molecules, which possibly led to stronger adhesions and, hence, decreased migration. Therefore, these data suggest that NMII acts as a regulator of cell migration and adhesion in WJ-MSCs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Cell Movement*
  • Cell Proliferation / physiology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Myosin Type II / metabolism*
  • Regeneration / physiology
  • Stem Cell Transplantation / methods
  • Umbilical Cord / cytology*
  • Wharton Jelly / cytology*


  • Myosin Type II