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posted on 25.03.2022, 04:58 authored by Zhenghao Yang, Xiaochan Xu, Chan Gu, Alexander Valentin Nielsen, Guokai Chen, Fan Guo, Chao Tang, Yang Zhao

Somatic cells can be chemically reprogrammed into a pluripotent stem cell (CiPSC) state, mediated by an extraembryonic endoderm- (XEN-) like state. We found that the chemical cocktail applied in CiPSC generation initially activated a plastic state in mouse fibroblasts before transitioning into XEN-like cells. The plastic state was characterized by broadly activated expression of development-associated transcription factors (TFs), such as Sox17, Ascl1, Tbx3, and Nkx6-1, with a more accessible chromatin state indicating an enhanced capability of cell fate conversion. Intriguingly, introducing such a plastic state remarkably improved the efficiency of chemical reprogramming from fibroblasts to functional neuron-like cells with electrophysiological activity or beating skeletal muscles. Furthermore, the generation of chemically induced neuron-like cells or skeletal muscles from mouse fibroblasts was independent of the intermediate XEN-like state or the pluripotency state. In summary, our findings revealed a plastic chemically activated multi-lineage priming (CaMP) state at the onset of chemical reprogramming. This state enhanced the cells’ potential to adapt to other cell fates. It provides a general approach to empowering chemical reprogramming methods to obtain functional cell types bypassing inducing pluripotent stem cells.

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