Characterization of a novel in vitro model for smooth muscle differentiation and the role of dedicator of cytokinesis 2 in smooth muscle differentiation, phenotypic modulation, and vascular remodeling
MetadataShow full item record
The objective of this study was to develop a novel in vitro model for smooth muscle cell (SMC) differentiation from human embryonic stem cell-derived mesenchymal cells (hES-MCs). We found that hES-MCs were differentiated to SMCs by transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) in dose and time-dependent manners as demonstrated by the expression of SMC specific genes smooth muscle α-actin, calponin and smooth muscle myosin heavy chain. Under normal growth condition, however, the differentiation capacity of hES-MCs was very limited. hES-MC-derived SMCs had an elongated and spindle-shaped morphology and contracted in response to the induction of carbachol and KCl. KCl-induced calcium transient was also evident in these cells. Compared to the parental cells, TGF-β-treated hES-MCs sustained the endothelial tube formation for a longer time due to the sustained SMC phenotype. Mechanistically, TGF-β-induced differentiation was both Smad- and SRF/myocardin-dependent. TGF- regulated myocardin expression via multiple signaling pathways including Smad2/3, p38 MAPK, and PI3K. Importantly, we found that a low level of myocardin was present in mesoderm prior to SMC lineage determination, and a high level of myocardin was not induced until the differentiation process was initiated. Taken together, our study characterized a novel SMC differentiation model that can be used for studying human SMC differentiation from mesoderm during vascular development.