Selected Publications

Background: Multiple pharmacogenomic studies have identified the synonymous genomic variant rs7853758 (G > A, L461L) and the intronic variant rs885004 in SLC28A3 (solute carrier family 28 member 3) as statistically associated with a lower incidence of anthracycline-induced cardiotoxicity. However, the true causal variant(s), the cardioprotective mechanism of this locus, the role of SLC28A3 and other solute carrier (SLC) transporters in anthracycline-induced cardiotoxicity, and the suitability of SLC transporters as targets for cardioprotective drugs has not been investigated. Methods: Six well-phenotyped, doxorubicin-treated pediatric patients from the original association study cohort were recruited again, and human induced pluripotent stem cell–derived cardiomyocytes were generated. Patient-specific doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity (DIC) was then characterized using assays of cell viability, activated caspase 37, and doxorubicin uptake. The role of SLC28A3 in DIC was then queried using overexpression and knockout of SLC28A3 in isogenic human-induced pluripotent stem cell–derived cardiomyocytes using a CRISPR/Cas9 (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats/CRISPR-associated protein 9). Fine-mapping of the SLC28A3 locus was then completed after SLC28A3 resequencing and an extended in silico haplotype and functional analysis. Genome editing of the potential causal variant was done using cytosine base editor. SLC28A3-AS1 overexpression was done using a lentiviral plasmid-based transduction and was validated using stranded RNA-sequencing after ribosomal RNA depletion. Drug screening was done using the Prestwick Chemical Library (n = 1200), followed by in vivo validation in mice. The effect of desipramine on doxorubicin cytotoxicity was also investigated in 8 cancer cell lines. Results: Here, using the most commonly used anthracycline, doxorubicin, we demonstrate that patient-derived cardiomyocytes recapitulate the cardioprotective effect of the SLC28A3 locus and that SLC28A3 expression influences the severity of DIC. Using Nanopore-based fine-mapping and base editing, we identify a novel cardioprotective single nucleotide polymorphism, rs11140490, in the SLC28A3 locus; its effect is exerted via regulation of an antisense long noncoding RNA (SLC28A3-AS1) that overlaps with SLC28A3. Using high-throughput drug screening in patient-derived cardiomyocytes and whole organism validation in mice, we identify the SLC competitive inhibitor desipramine as protective against DIC. Conclusions: This work demonstrates the power of the human induced pluripotent stem cell model to take a single nucleotide polymorphism from a statistical association through to drug discovery, providing human cell-tested data for clinical trials to attenuate DIC.
In Circ, 2022

Doxorubicin is an anthracycline chemotherapy agent effective in treating a wide range of malignancies, but its use is limited by dose-dependent cardiotoxicity. A recent genome-wide association study identified a SNP (rs2229774) in retinoic acid receptor-γ (RARG) as statistically associated with increased risk of anthracycline-induced cardiotoxicity. Here, we show that human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs) from patients with rs2229774 and who suffered doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity (DIC) are more sensitive to doxorubicin. We determine that the mechanism of this RARG variant effect is mediated via suppression of topoisomerase 2β (TOP2B) expression and activation of the cardioprotective extracellular regulated kinase (ERK) pathway. We use patient-specific hiPSC-CMs as a drug discovery platform, determining that the RARG agonist CD1530 attenuates DIC, and we confirm this cardioprotective effect in an established in vivo mouse model of DIC. This study provides a rationale for clinical prechemotherapy genetic screening for rs2229774 and a foundation for the clinical use of RARG agonist treatment to protect cancer patients from DIC.
In Cell SC, 2021

The protocol provided here describes methodologies for making a highly cost-effective, chemically defined medium for culturing hiPSCs we call B8 medium. The typical cost of B8 medium is US$10 per liter, which with modifications included here is more affordable than standard media. We provide simple protocols for making B8 supplement aliquots, making the basal media DMEM/F12, Matrigel-coated plates, thawing, passaging, culturing, and cryopreserving hiPSCs. We show typical differentiation results and provide a comprehensive troubleshooting guide.
In STAR Prot, 2021

Contraction of cardiac myocytes depends on energy generated by the mitochondria. During cardiac development and disease, the structure and function of the mitochondrial network in cardiac myocytes is known to remodel in concert with many other factors, including changes in nutrient availability, hemodynamic load, extracellular matrix (ECM) rigidity, cell shape, and maturation of other intracellular structures. However, the independent role of each of these factors on mitochondrial network architecture is poorly understood. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that cell aspect ratio (AR) and ECM rigidity regulate the architecture of the mitochondrial network in cardiac myocytes. To do this, we spin-coated glass coverslips with a soft, moderate, or stiff polymer. Next, we microcontact printed cell-sized rectangles of fibronectin with AR matching cardiac myocytes at various developmental or disease states onto the polymer surface. We then cultured neonatal rat ventricular myocytes on the patterned surfaces and used confocal microscopy and image processing techniques to quantify sarcomeric α-actinin volume, nucleus volume, and mitochondrial volume, surface area, and size distribution. On some substrates, α-actinin volume increased with cell AR but was not affected by ECM rigidity. Nucleus volume was mostly uniform across all conditions. In contrast, mitochondrial volume increased with cell AR on all substrates. Furthermore, mitochondrial surface area to volume ratio decreased as AR increased on all substrates. Large mitochondria were also more prevalent in cardiac myocytes with higher AR. For select AR, mitochondria were also smaller as ECM rigidity increased. Collectively, these results suggest that mitochondrial architecture in cardiac myocytes is strongly influenced by cell shape and moderately influenced by ECM rigidity. These data have important implications for understanding the factors that impact metabolic performance during heart development and disease.
In JMCC, 2020

In ventricular myocardium, extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling is a hallmark of physiological and pathological growth, coincident with metabolic rewiring of cardiac myocytes. However, the direct impact of the biochemical and mechanical properties of the ECM on the metabolic function of cardiac myocytes is mostly unknown. Furthermore, understanding the impact of distinct biomaterials on cardiac myocyte metabolism is critical for engineering physiologically-relevant models of healthy and diseased myocardium. For these reasons, we systematically measured morphological and metabolic responses of neonatal rat ventricular myocytes cultured on fibronectin- or gelatin-coated polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) of three elastic moduli and gelatin hydrogels with four elastic moduli. On all substrates, total protein content, cell morphology, and the ratio of mitochondrial DNA to nuclear DNA were preserved. Cytotoxicity was low on all substrates, although slightly higher on PDMS compared to gelatin hydrogels. We also quantified oxygen consumption rates and extracellular acidification rates using a Seahorse extracellular flux analyzer. Our data indicate that several metrics associated with baseline glycolysis and baseline and maximum mitochondrial function are enhanced when cardiac myocytes are cultured on gelatin hydrogels compared to all PDMS substrates, irrespective of substrate rigidity. These results yield new insights into how mechanical and biochemical cues provided by the ECM impact mitochondrial function in cardiac myocytes.
In Acta Biomat, 2019

Mitochondria in cardiac myocytes are critical for generating ATP to meet the high metabolic demands associated with sarcomere shortening. Distinct remodeling of mitochondrial structure and function occur in cardiac myocytes in both developmental and pathological settings. However, the factors that underlie these changes are poorly understood. Because remodeling of tissue architecture and extracellular matrix (ECM) elasticity are also hallmarks of ventricular development and disease, we hypothesize that these environmental factors regulate mitochondrial function in cardiac myocytes. To test this, we developed a new procedure to transfer tunable polydimethylsiloxane disks microcontact-printed with fibronectin into cell culture microplates. We cultured Sprague-Dawley neonatal rat ventricular myocytes within the wells, which consistently formed tissues following the printed fibronectin, and measured oxygen consumption rate using a Seahorse extracellular flux analyzer. Our data indicate that parameters associated with baseline metabolism are predominantly regulated by ECM elasticity, whereas the ability of tissues to adapt to metabolic stress is regulated by both ECM elasticity and tissue alignment. Furthermore, bioenergetic health index, which reflects both the positive and negative aspects of oxygen consumption, was highest in aligned tissues on the most rigid substrate, suggesting that overall mitochondrial function is regulated by both ECM elasticity and tissue alignment. Our results demonstrate that mitochondrial function is regulated by both ECM elasticity and myofibril architecture in cardiac myocytes. This provides novel insight into how extracellular cues impact mitochondrial function in the context of cardiac development and disease.
In AJP Heart, 2017

Recent Publications

More Publications

. Identification of Drug Transporter Genomic Variants and Inhibitors That Protect Against Doxorubicin-Induced Cardiotoxicity. In Circ, 2022.

Source Document

. RARG variant predictive of doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity identifies a cardioprotective therapy. In Cell SC, 2021.

Source Document

. An updated protocol for the cost-effective and weekend-free culture of human induced pluripotent stem cells. In STAR Prot, 2021.

Project Source Document

. Mitochondrial architecture in cardiac myocytes depends on cell shape and matrix rigidity. In JMCC, 2020.

Project Source Document


Novel strategies for hiPSC-CM differentiation

Development of chemically defined and high yield strategies for the differentiation of hiPSCs into functional cardiomyocytes, and their characterization for potential therapeutic applications.

hiPSC-CM Modeling of Anticancer Therapy-Induced Cardiotoxicity

Investiagtion of the mechanisms behind the cardiotoxic side effects of anti-cancer therapies, in special monoclonal antibodies such as trastuzumab and tyrosine kinase inhibitors.

Extracellular matrix regulation of mitochondrial function and structure in cardiac myocytes

Studies on the regulation of mitochondrial function and mitochondrial structure as function of ECM rigidity, composition, and tissue architecture in engineered cardiac myocytes.

Image analysis for phenotype classification in MRI

Development of image analysis algorithms focusing on image registration and segmentation to perform phenotype classification of different fat-fraction MR images.

Reconstruction of magnetic resonance flow imaging data using 3D SPIRiT

Development of algorithms to reconstruct temporal-accelerated spiral Fourier velocity encoded (FVE) MRI using 3D SPIRiT and different temporal acceleration approaches.

Reconstruction of magnetic resonance flow imaging data using parallel imaging

Development of algorithms to reconstruct spiral Fourier velocity encoded MRI data using parallel imaging, especially 2D SPIRiT.

Color calibration and scene classification

Development of image processing algorithms to be applied on color calibration between different devices, and scene classification.