Twine, Natalie A3; Chen, Li4; Pang, Chi N3; Wilkins, Marc R3; Kassem, Moustapha5
1 Secretariat, The Danish Stem Cell Center, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet2 Section VI. Building 18.4, Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet3 NSW Systems Biology Initiative, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia.4 Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Endocrine Research Laboratory (KMEB), Odense University Hospital, Odense, Denmark.5 Section VI. Building 18.4, Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet
The phenotype of osteoblastic (OB) cells in culture is currently defined using a limited number of markers of low sensitivity and specificity. For the clinical use of human skeletal (stromal, mesenchymal) stem cells (hMSC) in therapy, there is also a need to identify a set of gene markers that predict in vivo bone forming capacity. Thus, we used RNA sequencing to examine changes in expression for a set of skeletally-related genes across 8 time points between 0 and 12days of ex vivo OB differentiation of hMSC. We identified 123 genes showing significant temporal expression change. Hierarchical clustering and Pearson's correlation generated 4 groups of genes: early stage differentiation genes (peak expression: 0-24h, n=28) which were enriched for extracellular matrix organisation, e.g. COL1A1, LOX, and SERPINH1; middle stage differentiating genes (peak expression days: 3 and 6, n=20) which were enriched for extracellular matrix/skeletal system development e.g. BMP4, CYP24A1, and TGFBR2; and late stage differentiation genes (peak expression days: 9 and 12, n=27) which were enriched for bone development/osteoblast differentiation, e.g. BMP2 and IGF2. In addition, we identified 13 genes with bimodal temporal expression (2 peaks of expression: days 0 and 12) including VEGFA, PDGFA and FGF2. We examined the specificity of the 123 genes' expression in skeletal tissues and thus propose a set of ex vivo differentiation-stage-specific markers (n=21). In an independent analysis, we identified a subset of genes (n=20, e.g. ELN, COL11A1, BMP4) to predict the bone forming capacity of hMSC and another set (n=20, e.g. IGF2, TGFB2, SMAD3) associated with the ex vivo phenotype of hMSC obtained from osteoporotic patients.