Overexpression and knockdown of specific proteins can control stem cell differentiation for therapeutic purposes. In this study, we fabricated RUNX2, SOX9, and C/EBPα plasmid DNAs (pDNAs) and ATF4-targeting shRNA (shATF4) to induce osteogenesis, chondrogenesis, and adipogenesis of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs). The pDNAs and shATF4 were complexed with TRITC-gene regulation nanoparticles (GRN). Osteogenesis-related gene expression was reduced at early (12 h) and late (36 h) time points after co-delivery of shATF4 and SOX9 or C/EBPα pDNA, respectively, and osteogenesis was inhibited in these hMSCs. By contrast, osteogenesis-related genes were highly expressed upon co-delivery of RUNX2 and ATF4 pDNAs. DEX in GRN enhanced chondrogenic differentiation. Expression of osteogenesis-, chondrogenesis-, and adipogenesis-related genes was higher in hMSCs transfected with NPs complexed with RUNX2 and ATF4 pDNAs, shATF4 and SOX9 pDNA, and shATF4 and C/EBPα pDNA for 72 h than in control hMSCs, respectively. Moreover, delivery of these NPs also increased expression of osteogenesis-, chondrogenesis-, and adipogenesis-related proteins. These alterations in expression led to morphological changes, indicating that hMSCs differentiated into osteoblasts, chondrocytes, and adipose cells.
Keywords: Gene regulation nanoparticles; MSC; Multi-lineage; pDNA; shRNA.
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