Advertisement

Use of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells in Dermatological Research

  • Jason Dinella
    Affiliations
    Department of Dermatology, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, Colorado, USA

    Charles C. Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Biology, University of Colorado School of Medicine Aurora, Colorado, USA

    Graduate Program in Cell Biology, Stem Cells, and Development, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, Colorado, USA
    Search for articles by this author
  • Maranke I. Koster
    Affiliations
    Department of Dermatology, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, Colorado, USA

    Charles C. Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Biology, University of Colorado School of Medicine Aurora, Colorado, USA

    Graduate Program in Cell Biology, Stem Cells, and Development, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, Colorado, USA
    Search for articles by this author
  • Peter J. Koch
    Correspondence
    Department of Dermatology, Charles C. Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Biology, 12800 East 19th Avenue, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, Colorado 80045, USA
    Affiliations
    Department of Dermatology, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, Colorado, USA

    Charles C. Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Biology, University of Colorado School of Medicine Aurora, Colorado, USA

    Graduate Program in Cell Biology, Stem Cells, and Development, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, Colorado, USA

    Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, Colorado, USA
    Search for articles by this author
      Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) have the potential to differentiate into any cell type of the body. iPSCs are generated through a process termed “reprogramming,” which entails the introduction of a set of transcription factors into somatic cells, such as dermal fibroblasts. iPSC clones, recognizable by their morphology (Figure 1a), arise from these cultures, usually within 14–21 days. In addition to their pluripotency, another important characteristic of iPSCs is that they can be propagated in cell culture indefinitely. Thus, an unlimited supply of iPSCs can be generated from a small skin biopsy. These iPSCs can then be differentiated into different types of somatic cells. For example, iPSCs can be directed to differentiate into epidermal keratinocytes, one of the cell types often affected in skin disorders. iPSC-derived keratinocytes can then be used to generate a stratified epidermis, either in vitro (3D skin equivalent cultures) or in vivo (xenotransplantation of keratinocytes onto immunodeficient mice; see
      • Koch P.J.
      • Dinella J.
      • Fete M.
      • et al.
      Modeling AEC-new approaches to study rare genetic disorders.
      ;
      • Koster M.I.
      • Dinella J.
      • Chen J.
      • et al.
      Integrating animal models and in vitro tissue models to elucidate the role of desmosomal proteins in diseases.
      for references). The ability to generate unlimited numbers of disease-specific keratinocytes provides an ideal tool for basic scientists to explore the molecular mechanisms underlying different skin disorders. Further, recently developed technologies now enable investigators to correct disease-causing mutations in iPSCs. These cells could then be used to generate gene-corrected, healthy replacement skin for patients affected by genetic skin disorders. A major advantage of this approach is that patients would be treated with cells that are unlikely to be immunologically rejected.
      Figure thumbnail gr1
      Figure 1Generation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and iPSCderived keratinocytes. (a) human iPSC colony. (b–d) Immunofluorescence microscopy of iPSC colonies with antibodies against pluripotency markers demonstrating that the iPSCs have the typical characteristics of pluripotent stem cells (b, NANOG; c, SSEA-3; d, TRA1-60). (e) Micrograph of an iPSCderived keratinocyte culture that (f) expresses KRT14 (red) and TP63 (green), two marker proteins for keratinocytes. (g, h) 3D skin equivalent generated from human iPSC-derived keratinocytes. The sections were stained with antibodies against (g) LOR (loricrin; green) and KRT14 (red) and (h) DSC3 (desmocollin 3; green) and KRT14 (red), proteins expressed in normal human epidermis.

      iPSC GENERATION AND CHARACTERIZATION

      Figure thumbnail fx1
      After the reprogramming factors are introduced, cells with morphological characteristics similar to those of embryonic stem cells (ESCs) arise (Figure 1a). To determine whether successful iPSC conversion has occurred, these putative iPSC colonies are evaluated for the expression of genes associated with pluripotency, such as NANOG, SSEA-3, and TRA1-60 (Figures 1b–d; see also references in
      • Tolar J.
      • McGrath J.A.
      • Xia L.
      • et al.
      Patient-specific naturally gene-reverted induced pluripotent stem cells in recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa.
      ). Further, the absence of gross genetic abnormalities is assessed by karyotype analysis (i.e., a microscopic evaluation of chromosome numbers and structures). Finally, proof of pluripotency is obtained by assessing the ability of iPSCs to differentiate into cell types representing all three germ layers (endoderm, ectoderm, and mesoderm) in vitro or in vivo. For example, intramuscular or subcutaneous injection of human pluripotent iPSCs into immune-compromised mice will give rise to teratomas, tumors composed of cells representing each of the three germ layers (Figure 2;
      • Tolar J.
      • McGrath J.A.
      • Xia L.
      • et al.
      Patient-specific naturally gene-reverted induced pluripotent stem cells in recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa.
      ).
      Figure thumbnail gr2
      Figure 2Induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-induced teratoma in an immunodeficient mouse. Note that the iPSCs differentiated into cells representing mesodermal, ectodermal, and endodermal lineages.
      Reprinted with permission from
      • Tolar J.
      • McGrath J.A.
      • Xia L.
      • et al.
      Patient-specific naturally gene-reverted induced pluripotent stem cells in recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa.
      .

      GENERATING KERATINOCYTES FROM iPSCs

      Treatment of iPSCs with retinoic acid and BMP4 in cell culture directs the differentiation of these stem cells into keratinocytes (Figure 1e) (
      • Itoh M.
      • Kiuru M.
      • Cairo M.S.
      • et al.
      Generation of keratinocytes from normal and recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa-induced pluripotent stem cells.
      ;
      • Petrova A.
      • Celli A.
      • Arno M.
      • et al.
      3D in vitro model of a functional epidermal permeability barrier from hESC and iPSC.
      ). These cells express well-established keratinocyte markers such as KRT14 and TP63 (Figure 1f), and they can be isolated as pure cell populations using fluorescence-activated cell sorting with antibodies against keratinocyte cell surface markers such as ITGA6 and ITGB4. Further, iPSC-derived keratinocytes undergo terminal differentiation upon calcium exposure, as demonstrated by the expression of keratinocyte differentiation markers such as KRT1 and loricrin. Finally, iPSC-derived keratinocytes can form a fully stratified epidermis either in vitro (Figures 1g and 1h) or when transplanted onto immunodeficient mice. In addition to keratinocytes, other components of human skin, such as melanocytes and fibroblasts, can also be generated from iPSCs (
      • Ohta S.
      • Imaizumi Y.
      • Okada Y.
      • et al.
      Generation of human melanocytes from induced pluripotent stem cells.
      ;
      • Itoh M.
      • Umegaki-Arao N.
      • Guo Z.
      • et al.
      Generation of 3D skin equivalents fully reconstituted from human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).
      ). By combining the three main cellular components of human skin, namely keratinocytes, fibroblasts, and melanocytes, it should soon be possible to regenerate fully functional human skin.
      Beside generating epidermis, iPSC technology can be used to generate skin appendages. For example, two groups demonstrated that human iPSC-derived ectodermal precursor cells (EPCs) can contribute to the formation of hair follicles in vivo (Figure 3;
      • Veraitch O.
      • Kobayashi T.
      • Imaizumi Y.
      • et al.
      Human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived ectodermal precursor cells contribute to hair follicle morphogenesis in vivo.
      ;
      • Yang R.
      • Zheng Y.
      • Burrows M.
      • et al.
      Generation of folliculogenic human epithelial stem cells from induced pluripotent stem cells.
      ). In both studies, human iPSC-derived EPCs were combined with trichogenic neonatal mouse dermal papilla cells and then transplanted into immunodeficient mice. Several weeks later, newly generated hair follicles were observed that were, in part, derived from the human EPCs. The tremendous advances made in the past two years in this field of research suggest that we should soon be able to generate all major components of human skin in the laboratory.
      Figure thumbnail gr3
      Figure 3Generation of skin appendages with induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived ectodermal precursor cells. (a) Morphology of hair follicles (HFs) formed in areas transplanted with human iPSC-derived ectodermal precursor cells (hiPSC-EPCs). (b) Pilosebaceous unit (HF and sebaceous gland) formed with participation of hiPSC-EPCs. (c) Normal mouse HF control. (d–f) Staining of HF with a human-specific antibody. (d) Human HF and (e) hiPSC-EPC-derived HF stain positive, whereas the mouse HF (f) is negative. Bars = 50 mm.
      Reprinted with permission from Veraitch et al., 2013.

      APPLICATION OF iPSC TECHNOLOGY IN RESEARCH AND THERAPY

      One defining property of iPSCs is their ability to be expanded indefinitely. The essentially limitless amount of resulting material now enables skin researchers to generate human models for various genetic skin disorders (reviewed in
      • Koch P.J.
      • Dinella J.
      • Fete M.
      • et al.
      Modeling AEC-new approaches to study rare genetic disorders.
      ;
      • Koster M.I.
      • Dinella J.
      • Chen J.
      • et al.
      Integrating animal models and in vitro tissue models to elucidate the role of desmosomal proteins in diseases.
      ). These models are used not only to gain a better understanding of pathological mechanisms responsible for various skin disorders but also for the generation of cell-based screening systems designed to identify compounds that reverse or diminish disease phenotypes (Figure 4).
      Figure thumbnail gr4
      Figure 4Outline of the basic principles underlying induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology as it is used for disease modeling and for the generation of replacement tissue in regenerative medicine. Somatic cells (e.g., biopsyderived fibroblasts) are reprogrammed into iPSCs. Using genome-editing tools, such as TALE nucleases, point mutations can be corrected in the iPSCs (or in the original fibroblasts; see text for details). iPSCs can be differentiated into keratinocytes. Gene-corrected (control) and clinically affected keratinocytes can then be used in several experimental approaches: to set up compound screening to identify drugs interfering with disease phenotypes or to model clinical skin phenotypes in vitro (organotypic culture) or in vivo (generation of a human epidermis in immunodeficient mice, xenotransplants). Finally, gene-corrected keratinocytes can be used to produce replacement tissue for patients, for example, for patients with genetic blistering diseases (e.g., recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa, see text for details).
      One therapeutic goal is to utilize iPSC technology to generate genetically corrected keratinocytes from patients affected by genetic skin disorders. For example, Tolar and colleagues (
      • Tolar J.
      • McGrath J.A.
      • Xia L.
      • et al.
      Patient-specific naturally gene-reverted induced pluripotent stem cells in recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa.
      ) recently demonstrated that gene-corrected iPSCs can be generated from the skin of patients with a mosaic form of recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (RDEB). RDEB is caused by mutations in COL7A1, the gene encoding collagen VII. These mutations prevent the synthesis of sufficient amounts of collagen VII, leading to skin blistering. The patient described by Tolar and colleagues exhibited patches of normal-appearing skin in which the COL7A1 gene was spontaneously corrected (Figure 5a and b). By generating iPSCs and, subsequently, iPSC-derived keratinocytes from these patches (Figure 5e), the authors were able to provide proof of principle that iPSC technology can be used to generate essentially unlimited amounts of clinically normal epidermis from patients with a mosaic form of RDEB.
      Figure thumbnail gr5
      Figure 5Generation of phenotypically normal keratinocytes from patients affected by a mosaic form of recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (RDEB) using induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology. (a) Child with a mosaic form of generalized severe RDEB. The arrow points to a clinically normal skin area shown at higher magnification in (b). (c) Immunofluorescence microscopy demonstrates the absence of collagen VII staining in the affected skin of the patient, whereas (d) clinically normal areas show collagen VII at the epidermal–dermal junction. (e) iPSC-derived teratoma containing an epidermal-like structure expressing collagen VII at the dermal–epidermal junction, demonstrating that the iPSC-derived keratinocytes that originated from cells in the clinically normal skin of the patient produce collagen VII (collagen VII staining in red, nuclei are stained in blue). Bars = 50 mm.
      Reprinted with permission from
      • Tolar J.
      • McGrath J.A.
      • Xia L.
      • et al.
      Patient-specific naturally gene-reverted induced pluripotent stem cells in recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa.
      .
      Despite its potential use for patients with mosaic forms of skin disorders, this approach is not applicable to patients with nonmosaic skin disorders. For the latter group of skin disorders, genetic mutations must be corrected in vitro to generate healthy replacement skin. This can be accomplished using sequence-specific DNA nucleases (e.g., TALE nucleases;
      • Miller J.C.
      • Tan S.
      • Qiao G.
      • et al.
      A TALE nuclease architecture for efficient genome editing.
      ) designed to cut specific DNA sequences. If these nucleases are simultaneously introduced into patient-derived cells with a plasmid containing the corrected DNA sequence, homologous recombination leads to the repair of disease-causing point mutations (see references in
      • Koch P.J.
      • Dinella J.
      • Fete M.
      • et al.
      Modeling AEC-new approaches to study rare genetic disorders.
      ;
      • Koster M.I.
      • Dinella J.
      • Chen J.
      • et al.
      Integrating animal models and in vitro tissue models to elucidate the role of desmosomal proteins in diseases.
      ). The resulting gene-corrected iPSCs constitute an ideal source for generating unlimited supplies of patient-specific (and therefore most likely immunologically well-tolerated), healthy skin grafts. These gene corrections can be done either in iPSCs or in primary patient cells. For example, Osborn and colleagues (
      • Osborn M.J.
      • Starker C.G.
      • McElroy A.N.
      • et al.
      TALEN-based gene correction for epidermolysis bullosa.
      ) recently corrected an RDEB-causing COL7A1 mutation in patient fibroblasts. These fibroblasts were then turned into iPSCs and subsequently into keratinocytes expressing collagen VII, suggesting that this technology could indeed be used to treat genodermatoses with healthy (gene-corrected) patient-derived replacement tissue.

      SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

      iPSCs combined with gene-editing technologies are poised to have a significant impact on our ability to generate in vitro and in vivo disease models for genodermatoses caused by single point mutations. Generating keratinocytes that are genetically identical except for the presence or absence of a disease-causing mutation will provide researchers with ideal systems to assess defects in iPSC-derived patient keratinocytes at the RNA, protein, and functional levels. Further, this approach will enable us to develop patient cell–based screening systems to identify compounds capable of correcting defects in patient keratinocytes. In the long term, this technology may also be used to generate patient-derived, gene-corrected skin that could be transplanted onto patients from whom the original iPSCs were derived. Thus, this may lead to the development of novel therapies for debilitating genetic skin diseases, such as skin blistering or skin fragility disorders, for which no current therapies exist.
      Figure thumbnail fx2
      In addition, the relatively low water solubility of tamoxifen limits the tamoxifen doses that can be administered via drinking water, making it more difficult to arrive at a dose sufficient for gene knockout. These feeding or drinking variations can be circumvented by the use of a feeding needle, which, however, increases stress for the mice. Intraperitoneal or subcutaneous injections are also common using tamoxifen resolved in corn oil (Figure 3b). The subcutaneous implantation of tamoxifen pellets can also be used in rodents. Often, finding the right method to achieve the best possible deletion efficiency using these systems can be challenging and requires considerable testing.

      ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

      The authors thank the University of Colorado School of Medicine iPSC (http://www.medschool.ucdenver.edu/iPS) and Histology Cores for technical support. Histological services were supported by National Institutes of Health grant P30 AR057212. JD is supported by a predoctoral fellowship from the Colorado Clinical & Translational Science Institute (TR001081). PJK and MIK are supported by grants from the National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasias and the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases under award numbers R01 AR061506 (MIK) and RO1 AR053892 (PJK). The content of this article is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

      SUPPLEMENTARY MATERIAL

      A PowerPoint slide presentation appropriate for teaching purposes is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/jid.2014.238.

      CME ACCREDITATION

      This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and Policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education through the joint sponsorship of the Duke University School of Medicine and Society for Investigative Dermatology. The Duke University School of Medicine is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians. To participate in the CME activity, follow the link provided. Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.
      To take the online quiz, follow the link below:

      REFERENCES

        • Cyranoski D.
        Stem cells cruise to clinic.
        Nature. 2013; 494: 413
        • Itoh M.
        • Kiuru M.
        • Cairo M.S.
        • et al.
        Generation of keratinocytes from normal and recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa-induced pluripotent stem cells.
        Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2011; 108: 8797-8802
        • Itoh M.
        • Umegaki-Arao N.
        • Guo Z.
        • et al.
        Generation of 3D skin equivalents fully reconstituted from human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).
        PLoS One. 2013; 8: e77673
        • Koch P.J.
        • Dinella J.
        • Fete M.
        • et al.
        Modeling AEC-new approaches to study rare genetic disorders.
        Am J Med Gen A. 2014; (e-pub ahead of print 24 March 2014)
        • Koster M.I.
        • Dinella J.
        • Chen J.
        • et al.
        Integrating animal models and in vitro tissue models to elucidate the role of desmosomal proteins in diseases.
        Cell Commun Adhes. 2014; 21: 55-63
        • Miller J.C.
        • Tan S.
        • Qiao G.
        • et al.
        A TALE nuclease architecture for efficient genome editing.
        Nat Biotechnol. 2011; 29: 143-148
        • Ohta S.
        • Imaizumi Y.
        • Okada Y.
        • et al.
        Generation of human melanocytes from induced pluripotent stem cells.
        PLoS One. 2011; 6: e16182
        • Osborn M.J.
        • Starker C.G.
        • McElroy A.N.
        • et al.
        TALEN-based gene correction for epidermolysis bullosa.
        Mol Ther. 2013; 21: 1151-1159
        • Petrova A.
        • Celli A.
        • Arno M.
        • et al.
        3D in vitro model of a functional epidermal permeability barrier from hESC and iPSC.
        J Invest Dermatol. 2014; 134: S71
        • Schambach A.
        • Cantz T.
        • Baum C.
        • et al.
        Generation and genetic modification of induced pluripotent stem cells.
        Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2010; 10: 1089-1103
        • Takahashi K.
        • Yamanaka S.
        Induction of pluripotent stem cells from mouse embryonic and adult fibroblast cultures by defined factors.
        Cell. 2006; 126: 663-676
        • Tolar J.
        • McGrath J.A.
        • Xia L.
        • et al.
        Patient-specific naturally gene-reverted induced pluripotent stem cells in recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa.
        J Invest Dermatol. 2013; 134: 1246-1254
        • Veraitch O.
        • Kobayashi T.
        • Imaizumi Y.
        • et al.
        Human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived ectodermal precursor cells contribute to hair follicle morphogenesis in vivo.
        J Invest Dermatol. 2013; 133: 1479-1488
        • Yang R.
        • Zheng Y.
        • Burrows M.
        • et al.
        Generation of folliculogenic human epithelial stem cells from induced pluripotent stem cells.
        Nat Commun. 2014; 5: 3071