The therapeutic benefit of stimulating the cGMP pathway as a form of treatment to combat heart failure, as well as other fibrotic pathologies, has become well established. However, the development and signal compartmentation of this crucial pathway has so far been overlooked. We studied how the three main cGMP pathways, namely, nitric oxide (NO)-cGMP, natriuretic peptide (NP)-cGMP, and β3-adrenoreceptor (AR)-cGMP, mature over time in culture during cardiomyocyte differentiation from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSC-CMs). After introducing a cGMP sensor for Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) microscopy, we used selective phosphodiesterase (PDE) inhibition to reveal cGMP signal compartmentation in hPSC-CMs at various times of culture. Methyl-β-cyclodextrin was employed to remove cholesterol and thus to destroy caveolae in these cells, where physical cGMP signaling compartmentalization is known to occur in adult cardiomyocytes. We identified PDE3 as regulator of both the NO-cGMP and NP-cGMP pathway in the early stages of culture. At the late stage, the role of the NO-cGMP pathway diminished, and it was predominantly regulated by PDE1, PDE2, and PDE5. The NP-cGMP pathway shows unrestricted locally and unregulated cGMP signaling. Lastly, we observed that maturation of the β3-AR-cGMP pathway in prolonged cultures of hPSC-CMs depends on the accumulation of caveolae. Overall, this study highlighted the importance of structural development for the necessary compartmentation of the cGMP pathway in maturing hPSC-CMs.
Keywords: FRET; cGMP; cardiomyocytes; phosphodiesterase; stem cells.