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Stem Cells International
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 414038, 13 pages
Research Article

Directed Fusion of Mesenchymal Stem Cells with Cardiomyocytes via VSV-G Facilitates Stem Cell Programming

1Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Wisconsin at Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA
2Department of Pathobiological Sciences, University of Wisconsin at Madison, Madison, WI 53711, USA
3Department of Medicine, University of Wisconsin at Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA
4The Laboratory for Optical and Computational Instrumentation, University of Wisconsin at Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA
5The Material Sciences Program, University of Wisconsin at Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA

Received 19 January 2012; Accepted 22 February 2012

Academic Editor: Selim Kuçi

Copyright © 2012 Nicholas A. Kouris et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) spontaneously fuse with somatic cells in vivo, albeit rarely, and the fusion products are capable of tissue-specific function (mature trait) or proliferation (immature trait), depending on the microenvironment. That stem cells can be programmed, or somatic cells reprogrammed, in this fashion suggests that stem cell fusion holds promise as a therapeutic approach for the repair of damaged tissues, especially tissues not readily capable of functional regeneration, such as the myocardium. In an attempt to increase the frequency of stem cell fusion and, in so doing, increase the potential for cardiac tissue repair, we expressed the fusogen of the vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV-G) in human MSCs. We found VSV-G expressing MSCs (vMSCs) fused with cardiomyocytes (CMs) and these fusion products adopted a CM-like phenotype and morphology in vitro. In vivo, vMSCs delivered to damaged mouse myocardium via a collagen patch were able to home to the myocardium and fuse to cells within the infarct and peri-infarct region of the myocardium. This study provides a basis for the investigation of the biological impact of fusion of stem cells with CMs in vivo and illustrates how viral fusion proteins might better enable such studies.