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Geometric control of myogenic cell fate


This work combines expertise in stem cell biology and bioengineering to define the system for geometric control of proliferation and differentiation of myogenic progenitor cells. We have created an artificial niche of myogenic progenitor cells, namely, modified extracellular matrix (ECM) substrates with spatially embedded growth or differentiation factors (GF, DF) that predictably direct muscle cell fate in a geometric pattern. Embedded GF and DF signal progenitor cells from specifically defined areas on the ECM successfully competed against culture media for myogenic cell fate determination at a clearly defined boundary. Differentiation of myoblasts into myotubes is induced in growth-promoting medium, myotube formation is delayed in differentiation-promoting medium, and myogenic cells, at different stages of proliferation and differentiation, can be induced to coexist adjacently in identical culture media. This method can be used to identify molecular interactions between cells in different stages of myogenic differentiation, which are likely to be important determinants of tissue repair. The designed ECM niches can be further developed into a vehicle for transplantation of myogenic progenitor cells maintaining their regenerative potential. Additionally, this work may also serve as a general model to engineer synthetic cellular niches to harness the regenerative potential of organ stem cells.

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