Improved Generation of Induced Cardiomyocytes Using a Polycistronic Construct Expressing Optimal Ratio of Gata4, Mef2c and Tbx5

J Vis Exp. 2015 Nov 13;(105):53426. doi: 10.3791/53426.


Direct conversion of cardiac fibroblasts (CFs) into induced cardiomyocytes (iCMs) holds great potential for regenerative medicine by offering alternative strategies for treatment of heart disease. This conversion has been achieved by forced expression of defined factors such as Gata4 (G), Mef2c (M) and Tbx5 (T). Traditionally, iCMs are generated by a cocktail of viruses expressing these individual factors. However, reprogramming efficiency is relatively low and most of the in vitro G,M,T-transduced fibroblasts do not become fully reprogrammed, making it difficult to study the reprogramming mechanisms. We recently have shown that the stoichiometry of G,M,T is crucial for efficient iCM reprogramming. An optimal stoichiometry of G,M,T with relative high level of M and low levels of G and T achieved by using our polycistronic MGT vector (hereafter referred to as MGT) significantly increased reprogramming efficiency and improved iCM quality in vitro. Here we provide a detailed description of the methodology used to generate iCMs with MGT construct from cardiac fibroblasts. Isolation of cardiac fibroblasts, generation of virus for reprogramming and evaluation of the reprogramming process are also included to provide a platform for efficient and reproducible generation of iCMs.