Sometimes we all need a little boost to improve productivity, whether it’s a mid-afternoon Snickers bar or a venti quadruple-shot latte to jump start a weary mind. It turns out that human fibroblasts also like a little something extra to help them reprogram into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS).
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University led by Prashant Mali have shown that the HDAC inhibitor sodium butyrate greatly improves the derivation of human iPS cells, at least in part through epigenetic remodeling.
iPS cells have lots of therapeutic potential because they are derived from a patient’s own somatic cells, but the efficiency of iPS production from human adult fibroblasts is quite low (<0.05%). The investigators found that adding butyrate during the reprogramming process, which involves expression of 4–5 reprogramming genes from retroviral or piggyBac transposon vectors, enhances iPS cell derivation efficiency by 15- to 51-fold.
The improved efficiency was accompanied by increased histone H3 acetylation, promoter DNA demethylation, and expression of endogenous pluripotency-associated genes. Butyrate addition might be especially useful for coaxing tough to reprogram adult somatic cells into iPS cells. So while you’re sipping your afternoon latte, read the full paper at Stem Cells, April 2010.