Functional Vascular Smooth Muscle-like Cells Derived from Adult Mouse Uterine Mesothelial Cells

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Functional Vascular Smooth Muscle-like Cells Derived from Adult Mouse Uterine Mesothelial Cells

Public Library of Science
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0055181
  • Biology
  • Muscle
  • Medicine
  • Mouse
  • Stem Cells
  • Animal Models
  • Developmental Biology
  • Research Article
  • Muscle Cells
  • Stem Cell Niche
  • Adult Stem Cells
  • Musculoskeletal System
  • Molecular Cell Biology
  • Model Organisms
  • Anatomy And Physiology
  • Cellular Types
  • Cell Potency
  • Muscle Types


In mammalian visceral organs, vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) originate from an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) of embryonic mesothelial cells (MCs). The ability of adult MCs to recapitulate EMT and to acquire smooth muscle (SM) markers upon provasculogenic culture suggested they might retain embryonic vasculogenic differentiation potential. However, it remains unknown whether adult MCs-derived SM-like cells may acquire specific vascular SM lineage markers and the functionality of differentiated contractile VSMCs. Here, we describe how a gentle trypsinization of adult mouse uterine cords could selectively detach their outermost uterine mesothelial layer cells. As other MCs; uterine MCs (UtMCs) uniformly expressed the epithelial markers β-catenin, ZO-1, E-cadherin, CD54, CD29, and CK18. When cultured in a modified SM differentiation media (SMDM) UtMCs initiated a loss of epithelial characteristics and gained markers expression of EMT (Twist, Snail, and Slug), stem and progenitor (Nanog, Sox2, C-kit, Gata-4, Isl-1, and nestin), SM (α-SMA, calponin, caldesmon, SM22α, desmin, SM-MHC, and smoothelin-B) and cardiac (BMP2, BMP4, ACTC1, sACTN, cTnI, cTnT, ANF, Cx43, and MLC2a). UtMCs repeatedly subcultured in SMDM acquired differentiated VSM-like characteristics and expressed smoothelin-B in the typical stress-fiber pattern expression of contractile VSMCs. Relevantly, UtMCs-derived VSM-like cells could generate “mechanical force” to compact collagen lattices and displayed in diverse degree voltage (K+) and receptor (endothelin-1, oxytocin, norepinephrine, carbachol and vasopressin)-induced [Ca2+]i rises and contraction. Thus, we show for the first time that UtMCs could recapitulate in vitro differentiative events of early cardiovascular differentiation and transdifferentiate in cells exhibiting molecular and functional characteristics of VSMCs.

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