Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Vol.527, No.3, 723-729, 2020
Generation of hepatocyte-like cells from human urinary epithelial cells and the role of autophagy during direct reprogramming
Somatic cells can be directly reprogrammed into other cell lineages, which holds great promise for regenerative medicine. However, low efficiency and obscure mechanism hinder the application of direct reprogramming. Here, we show that overexpressing the hepatic-specific transcription factors (TFs) HNF1 alpha, FOXA3, and GATA4 was sufficient to convert human urinary epithelial cells (hUCs) into induced hepatocyte-like cells (iHeps). The obtained iHeps were confirmed to express various hepatocyte-specific genes with multiple mature hepatocyte functions. Moreover, autophagy-related genes P62, ULK1, BECN1, VPS34, and LC3B were upregulated in the early stage of reprogramming and knockout of P62 and BECN1 in hUCs with CRISPR/Cas9 technology increased the efficiency of direct reprogramming. Collectively, we established a non-invasive approach to convert hUCs into iHeps and provided a glimpse into the role of autophagy in this process. (C) 2020 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.