Uncoupling of Proliferative Capacity from Developmental Stage During Directed Cardiac Differentiation of Pluripotent Stem Cells

Katherine Minter-Dykhouse, Timothy J. Nelson, Clifford D.L. Folmes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lineage-specific differentiation of human-induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) into cardiomyocytes (CMs) offers a patient-specific model to dissect development and disease pathogenesis in a dish. However, challenges exist with this model system, such as the relative immaturity of iPSC-derived CMs, which evoke the question of whether this model faithfully recapitulates in vivo cardiac development. As in vivo cardiac developmental stage is intimately linked with the proliferative capacity (or maturation is inversely correlated to proliferative capacity), we sought to understand how proliferation is regulated during hiPSC CM differentiation and how it compares with in vivo mouse cardiac development. Using standard Chemically Defined Media 3 differentiation, gene expression profiles demonstrate that hiPSC-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs) do not progress past the equivalent of embryonic day 14.5 of murine cardiac development. Throughout differentiation, overall DNA synthesis rapidly declines with <5% of hiPSC-CMs actively synthesizing DNA at the end of the differentiation period despite their immaturity. Bivariate cell cycle analysis demonstrated that hiPSC-CMs have a cell cycle profile distinct from their non-cardiac counterparts from the same differentiation, with significantly fewer cells within G1 and a marked accumulation of cells in G2/M than their non-cardiac counterparts throughout differentiation. Pulse-chase analysis demonstrated that non-cardiac cells progressed completely through the cell cycle within a 24-h period, whereas hiPSC-CMs had restricted progression with only a small proportion of cells undergoing cytokinesis with the remainder stalling in late S-phase or G2/M. This cell cycle arrest phenotype is associated with abbreviated expression of cell cycle promoting genes compared with expression throughout murine embryonic cardiac development. In summary, directed differentiation of hiPSCs into CMs uncouples the developmental stage from cell cycle regulation compared with in vivo mouse cardiac development, leading to a premature exit of hiPSC-CMs from the cell cycle despite their relative immaturity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)521-528
Number of pages8
JournalStem Cells and Development
Issue number17-18
StatePublished - Sep 1 2022


  • cardiac differentiation
  • cell cycle
  • induced pluripotent stem cells
  • proliferation
  • stem cell derived cardiomyocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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