The role of nuclear factor of activated T cells during phorbol myristate acetate-induced cardiac differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells

Hyang Hee Seo, Chang Youn Lee, Jiyun Lee, Soyeon Lim, Eunhyun Choi, Jong Chul Park, Seahyoung Lee, Ki Chul Hwang

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: We previously reported that phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) treatment can induce the cardiac differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). In the present study, we investigated how PMA induces cardiac differentiation of MSCs, focusing on its effect on the transcription factors responsible for increased cardiac marker gene expression. Methods: Human MSCs (hMSCs) were treated with 1 μM PMA for 9 days. The expression of MSC markers and cardiac markers in the PMA-treated hMSC, as well as the nuclear translocation of transcription factors, nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT), and myogenic differentiation 1 (MyoD), was examined. Transcriptional activity of NFAT was examined by utilizing a green fluorescent protein (GFP) vector containing NFAT motif of human interleukin-2 promoter. The effect of PMA on the expression of key cell cycle regulators was examined. Results: PMA induces the transcriptional activity of NFAT and MyoD, which have been associated with increased expression of cardiac troponin T (cTnT) and myosin heavy chain (MHC), respectively. Our data suggested that protein kinase C (PKC) mediates the effect of PMA on NFAT activation. Furthermore, PMA treatment increased cell-cycle regulator p27kip1 expression, suggesting that PMA triggers the cardiac differentiation program in MSCs by regulating key transcription factors and cell cycle regulators. Conclusions: The results of this study demonstrate the importance of NFAT activation during PMA-induced MSC differentiation and help us to better understand the underlying mechanisms of small molecule-mediated MSC differentiation so that we can develop a strategy for synthesizing novel and improved differentiation-inducing small molecules.

Original languageEnglish
Article number90
JournalStem Cell Research and Therapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jul 12

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by grants funded by the Korea Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (NRF-2015M3A9E6029519, and NFR-2015M3A9E6029407).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Author(s).

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Cell Biology


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