Targeting cardiac progenitors in human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs): identification of novel non-coding RNAs driving cardiac development and regeneration

Group: Pluripotent stem cells and activation of endogenous tissue programs for organ regeneration
Group leader: Nuria Montserrat (nmontserrat@ibecbarcelona.eu)

Regenerative Medicine aims to restore the loss of function in tissues and organs by the formation of new functional structures.
For that purpose, regenerative medicine makes use of different methodologies: stem cells, animal models or gene therapy.
Alongside this project we aim to identify long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) with a potential role in early steps of cardiac development. Top candidates will be identified by RNA Seq and subsequently validated in order to dissect their potential role in tissue differentiation. At the same time, we sought to determine their functionality in vivo by using animal models of heart failure.

The main objectives of this project are as follows:

1) To identify the molecular (lncRNAs) and epigenetic mechanisms guiding mesoderm specification and cardiac differentiation using hPSCs. LncRNAs related to major changes during the onset of hPSCs diffferentiation towards cardiac lineage and cardiac progenitors will be correlated with epigenetic signatures and methylation landscapes genome-wide.

2) LncRNAs identified in 1) will be further used in order to generate cellular models for the generation of cardiac progenitors form hPSCs.

3) LncRNAs validated in 2) will be assayed for their potential role in tissue regeneration in vivo Expected results: i) identification of molecular and epigenetic mechanisms driving early steps of cardiac differentiation using pluripotent stem cells ii) induction of tissue regeneration by lncRNAs involved in cardiac differentiation using animal models of heart failure.