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Modulation of Nonviral Gene Delivery System Parameters for Enhanced Transfection of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells for Therapeutic Applications

Tyler Kozisek, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) are under research for applications in cell-based therapies due to hMSCs therapeutic properties. However, the therapeutic properties of hMSCs could be advanced by genetic modification. Viral modification of hMSCs is highly efficient but presents safety and production issues that limits clinical translation. Conversely, nonviral gene delivery offers advantages in safety and production compared to viral approaches, but is less efficient, especially in hMSCs. To address the challenges of nonviral gene delivery in hMSCs, our group has shown that priming hMSCs with the glucocorticoid dexamethasone can significantly increase transfection compared to a vehicle control (VC). Work presented in this dissertation expands our priming library for hMSC transfection by screening clinically approved drugs for compounds that significantly modulate transfection compared to the VC. Our results indicate that glucocorticoids are a potent priming drug class in hMSCs, but other compounds, such as antibiotics and antihypertensives, can also modulate transfection, potentially through unique molecular mechanisms. The molecular mechanisms of the identified priming compounds were further investigated using Drug Set Enrichment Analysis to predict endogenous genes that might be modulated by hMSC transfection priming. Our results indicate that endogenous genes related to Wnt and interferon signaling are modulated by antibiotics and antihypertensives, providing new molecular targets for future priming studies. In addition to priming, work presented in this dissertation systematically compared key transfection parameters to optimize transfection in hMSCs. Our results motivate the use of minimized DNA vectors for hMSC transfection, and suggest the need for optimization of transfection parameters on a donor and tissue source basis as these two parameters can create large variation in transfection outcomes. Finally, we show that efficient expression of multiple transgenes simultaneously in hMSCs can be achieved using a poly-cistronic DNA vector with a dual 2A peptide sequence. These studies inform methods to use nonviral gene delivery to advance hMSC clinical applications, with emphasis on treatment of multifaceted diseases that require expression of multiple transgenes.

Subject Area

Biomedical engineering|Biology|Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Kozisek, Tyler, "Modulation of Nonviral Gene Delivery System Parameters for Enhanced Transfection of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells for Therapeutic Applications" (2021). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI28864702.