MicroRNA-mediated non-viral direct conversion of embryonic fibroblasts to cardiomyocytes: comparison of commercial and synthetic non-viral vectors

Hyosuk Kim, Dongkyu Kim, Sook Hee Ku, Kwangmeyung Kim, Sun Hwa Kim, Ick Chan Kwon

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9 Scopus citations


Technological advances opened up new ways of directing cell fate conversion from one cell lineage to another. The direct cell conversion technique has recently attracted much attention in regenerative medicine to treat devastated organs and tissues, particularly having limited regenerative capacity such as the heart and brain. Unfortunately, its clinical application is severely limited due to a safety concern and immunogenicity of viral vectors, as human gene therapy did in the beginning stages. In this study, we examined the possibility of adopting non-viral vectors to direct cell conversion from mouse embryonic fibroblasts to induced cardiomyocytes (iCM) by transient transfection of four types of chemically synthesized micro-RNA mimics (miRNA-1, 133, 208, and 499). Herein, we tested several commercial and synthetic non-viral gene delivery carriers, which could be divided into three different categories: polymers [branched PEI (bPEI), bioreducible PEI (PEI-SS), deoxycholic acid-conjugated PEI (DA-PEI), jetPEI™, SuperFect™], lipids (Lipofectamine 2000™), and peptides (PepMute™). According to the analyses of physicochemical properties, cellular uptake, and cytotoxicity of the carrier/miRNA complexes, DA-PEI exhibited excellent miRNA delivery efficiency to mouse embryonic fibroblasts. One week after a single treatment of DA-PEI/miRNA without other adjuvants, the cells started to express cardiomyocyte-specific markers, such as α-actinin and α-MHC, indicating the formation of cardiomyocyte-like cells. Although the overall frequency of non-viral vector induced cardiomyogenic transdifferentiation was quite low (ca. 0.2%), this study can provide compelling support to develop clinically applicable transdifferentiation techniques.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1070-1085
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Biomaterials Science, Polymer Edition
Issue number10-12
StatePublished - 13 Aug 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • cardiomyocyte
  • miRNA
  • Non-viral delivery
  • polyethylenimine
  • transdifferentiation


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