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Developmental Biology

Kinetic Measurement and Real Time Visualization of Somatic Reprogramming

Published: July 30th, 2016



1Life Sciences Solutions, Thermo Fisher Scientific

The protocol presented in this study describes methods for the real-time monitoring of reprogramming progression via the kinetic measurement of positive and negative pluripotent stem cell markers using flow cytometry analysis. The protocol also includes the imaging-based assessment of morphology, and marker or reporter expression during iPSC generation.

Somatic reprogramming has enabled the conversion of adult cells to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) from diverse genetic backgrounds and disease phenotypes. Recent advances have identified more efficient and safe methods for introduction of reprogramming factors. However, there are few tools to monitor and track the progression of reprogramming. Current methods for monitoring reprogramming rely on the qualitative inspection of morphology or staining with stem cell-specific dyes and antibodies. Tools to dissect the progression of iPSC generation can help better understand the process under different conditions from diverse cell sources.

This study presents key approaches for kinetic measurement of reprogramming progression using flow cytometry as well as real-time monitoring via imaging. To measure the kinetics of reprogramming, flow analysis was performed at discrete time points using antibodies against positive and negative pluripotent stem cell markers. The combination of real-time visualization and flow analysis enables the quantitative study of reprogramming at different stages and provides a more accurate comparison of different systems and methods. Real-time, image-based analysis was used for the continuous monitoring of fibroblasts as they are reprogrammed in a feeder-free medium system. The kinetics of colony formation was measured based on confluence in the phase contrast or fluorescence channels after staining with live alkaline phosphatase dye or antibodies against SSEA4 or TRA-1-60. The results indicated that measurement of confluence provides semi-quantitative metrics to monitor the progression of reprogramming.

Patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are promising tools for cell therapy and drug screening. They provide an autologous source of cells for therapy. In addition, they encompass a very broad set of genetic backgrounds, enabling a detailed in vitro analysis of genetic diseases beyond what current embryonic stem cell (ESC) lines would allow. Recent advances have led to the development of several methods for generating iPSCs, including reprogramming with Sendai virus, episomal plasmids or mRNAs 1,2. Notably, different reprogramming methods are associated with varying levels of efficiency and safety, and are likely to differ in other ....

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1.Solution and Medium Preparation

  1. Basement Membrane Matrix (Purified from Engelbreth-Holm-Swarm Tumor)
    1. Slowly thaw the basement membrane matrix (5 ml) on ice at 4 °C overnight.
    2. Dilute the stock solution 1:1 with 5 ml of ice cold, sterile DMEM/F-12 medium in a sterile, pre-chilled 15 ml conical tube. Dispense aliquots into pre-chilled, 1.5 ml sterile micro centrifuge tubes and immediately store at -20 °C.
    3. Prior to usage, thaw the frozen 1:1 basement .......

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Monitoring Reprogramming Kinetics Using Flow Cytometry

CD44 is a fibroblast marker while SSEA4 is a PSC marker 6,10. As expected from this expression pattern, flow cytometry of BJ fibroblasts shows an SSEA4- CD44+ population that facilitates the creation of quadrant gates in combination with the unstained sample. During reprogramming of DF1 fibroblasts with the Sendai viruses, CD44 is gr.......

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This study provides strategies for monitoring and tracking of the reprogramming process using flow cytometry and real-time imaging-based analysis. The critical steps in the protocol are initiating reprogramming, measuring reprogramming progression based on marker expression and real-time monitoring of reprogramming. Any reprogramming method of choice can be used but here we focus on Sendai based reprogramming of human fibroblasts. The advantage of this method is the ease of use and consistent high efficiency of reprogram.......

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The authors thank Chad MacArthur for helpful discussions.


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Name Company Catalog Number Comments
DMEM, high glucose, GlutaMAXSupplement, pyruvate Thermo Fisher Scientific 10569-010
Fetal Bovine Serum, embryonic stem cell-qualified, US origin Thermo Fisher Scientific 16141-061
MEM Non-Essential Amino Acids Solution (100X) Thermo Fisher Scientific 11140-050
Trypsin-EDTA (0.05%), phenol red  Thermo Fisher Scientific 25300-054
Mouse (ICR) Inactivated Embryonic Fibroblasts Thermo Fisher Scientific A24903
Attachment Factor Protein (1X) Thermo Fisher Scientific S-006-100
DMEM/F-12, GlutaMAX supplement Thermo Fisher Scientific 10565-018
KnockOut Serum Replacement Thermo Fisher Scientific 10828010
2-Mercaptoethanol (55 mM) Thermo Fisher Scientific 21985-023
Collagenase, Type IV, powder Thermo Fisher Scientific 17104-019
TrypLE Select Enzyme (1X), no phenol red  Thermo Fisher Scientific 12563-011
DPBS, no calcium, no magnesium  Thermo Fisher Scientific 14190-144
Geltrex LDEV-Free, hESC-Qualified, Reduced Growth Factor Basement Membrane Matrix Thermo Fisher Scientific A1413302
Essential 8 Medium Thermo Fisher Scientific A1517001
FGF-Basic (AA 1-155) Recombinant Human Protein Thermo Fisher Scientific PHG0264
UltraPure 0.5M EDTA, pH 8.0 Thermo Fisher Scientific 15575-020
Bovine Albumin Fraction V (7.5% solution) Thermo Fisher Scientific 15260-037
HEPES (1 M) Thermo Fisher Scientific 15630-080
Penicillin-Streptomycin (10,000 U/mL) Thermo Fisher Scientific 15140-122
InSolution Y-27632 EMD Millipore 688001
CytoTune-iPS Sendai Reprogramming Kit Thermo Fisher Scientific A1378001
CytoTune-iPS 2.0 Sendai Reprogramming Kit Thermo Fisher Scientific A16517
Countess II Automated Cell Counter Thermo Fisher Scientific AMQAX1000
Countess Cell Counting Chamber Slides Thermo Fisher Scientific C10228
BJ ATCC Human Foreskin Fibroblasts, Neonatal ATCC CRL-2522
DF1 Adult Human Dermal Fibroblast Thermo Fisher Scientific N/A
BG01V/hOG Cells Variant hESC hOct4-GFP Reporter Cells Thermo Fisher Scientific R7799-105
IncuCyte ZOOM Essen BioScience
SSEA-4 Antibody, Alexa Fluor 647 conjugate (MC813-70) Thermo Fisher Scientific SSEA421
SSEA-4 Antibody, Alexa Fluor 488 conjugate (eBioMC-813-70 (MC-813-70)) Thermo Fisher Scientific A14810
SSEA-4 Antibody (MC813-70) Thermo Fisher Scientific 41-4000
TRA-1-60 Antibody (cl.A) Thermo Fisher Scientific  41-1000
CD44 Rat Anti-Human/Mouse mAb (clone IM7), PE-Cy5 conjugate Thermo Fisher Scientific A27094
CD44 Alexa Fluor 488 Conjugate Kit for Live Cell Imaging Thermo Fisher Scientific A25528
CD44 Rat Anti-Human/Mouse mAb (Clone IM7) Thermo Fisher Scientific RM-5700 (no longer available)
Goat anti-Mouse IgG (H+L) Secondary Antibody, Alexa Fluor 488 conjugate Thermo Fisher Scientific  A-11029
Goat anti-Rat IgG (H+L) Secondary Antibody, Alexa Fluor 594 conjugate Thermo Fisher Scientific  A-11007
Alkaline Phosphatase Live Stain Thermo Fisher Scientific A14353
TRA-1-60 Alexa Fluor 488 Conjugate Kit for Live Cell Imaging Thermo Fisher Scientific A25618
CD24 Mouse Anti-Human mAb (clone SN3), FITC conjugate Thermo Fisher Scientific MHCD2401
beta-2 Microglobulin Antibody, FITC conjugate (B2M-01) Thermo Fisher Scientific A15737
EpCAM / CD326 Antibody, FITC conjugate (VU-1D9) Thermo Fisher Scientific A15755
CD73 / NT5E Antibody (7G2) Thermo Fisher Scientific 41-0200
VECTOR Red Alkaline Phosphatase (AP) Substrate Kit Vector Laboratories SK-5100
Zeiss Axio Observer.Z1 microscope  Carl Zeiss 491912-0003-000
FlowJo Data Analysis Software FLOJO, LLC N/A
Attune Accoustic Focusing Cytometer, Blue/Red Laser Thermo Fisher Scientific Use Attune NXT 
S3e\ Cell Sorter (488/561 nm) BIO-RAD 1451006
Falcon 12 x 75 mm Tube with Cell Strainer Cap Corning 352235
Falcon 15 mL, high-clarity, dome-seal screw cap Corning 352097
Falcon T-75 Flask Corning 353136
Falcon T-175 Flask Corning 353112
Falcon 6-well dish Corning 353046
HERAEUS HERACELL CO2 ROLLING INCUBATOR Thermo Fisher Scientific 51013669
Nonstick, RNase-free Microfuge Tubes, 1.5 mL AM12450
HulaMixer Sample Mixer 15920D

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