Suspension-Induced Stem Cell Transition: A Non-Transgenic Method to Generate Adult Stem Cells from Mouse and Human Somatic Cells

Adult stem cells (ASCs) can be cultured with difficulty from most tissues, often requiring chemical or transgenic modification to achieve adequate quantities. We show here that mouse primary fibroblasts, grown in suspension, change from the elongated and flattened morphology observed under standard adherent culture conditions of generating rounded cells with large nuclei and scant cytoplasm and expressing the mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) marker (Sca1; Ly6A) within 24 h. Based on this initial observation, we describe here a suspension culture method that, irrespective of the lineage used, mouse fibroblast or primary human somatic cells (fibroblasts, hepatocytes and keratinocytes), is capable of generating a high yield of cells in spheroid form which display the expression of ASC surface markers, circumventing the anoikis which often occurs at this stage. Moreover, mouse fibroblast-derived spheroids can be differentiated into adipogenic and osteogenic lineages. An analysis of single-cell RNA sequence data in mouse fibroblasts identified eight distinct cell clusters with one in particular comprising approximately 10% of the cells showing high levels of proliferative capacity expressing high levels of genes related to MSCs and self-renewal as well as the extracellular matrix (ECM). We believe the rapid, high-yield generation of proliferative, multi-potent ASC-like cells via the process we term suspension-induced stem cell transition (SIST) could have significant implications for regenerative medicine.

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  1. Behzad Yeganeh

    Associate Scientist, CHEO Research Institute

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  2. Shawn Beug

    Scientist, CHEO Research Institute

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  3. Robert P Jankov

    Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute

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