A short-activating RNA oligonucleotide targeting the islet β-cell transcriptional factor MafA in CD34(+) cells
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Upon functional loss of insulin producing islet β-cells, some patients with diabetes become dependent on life-long insulin supplementation therapy. Bioengineering surrogate insulin producing cells is an alternative replacement strategy. We have developed a novel approach using short-activating RNA oligonucleotides to differentiate adult human CD34+ cells into insulin-secreting cells. By transfecting RNA to increase transcript levels of the master regulator of insulin biosynthesis, v-maf musculoaponeurotic fibrosarcoma oncogene homolog A (MafA), several pancreatic endodermal genes were upregulated during the differentiation procedure. These included Pancreatic and duodenal homeobox gene-1 (PDX1), Neurogenin 3, NeuroD, and NK6 homeobox 1 (NKx6-1). Differentiated CD34+ cells also expressed glucokinase, glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor (GLP1R), sulfonylurea receptor-1 (SUR1) and phogrin—all essential for glucose sensitivity and insulin secretion. The differentiated cells appropriately processed C-peptide and insulin in response to increasing glucose stimulation as shown by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), fluorescence-activated cell sorting analysis, western blotting, and immunofluorescence staining. We provide a new approach using short-activating RNA in developing insulin producing surrogate cells for treating diabetes.