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Stem Cells International
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 2868323, 10 pages
Research Article

Role of Nitric Oxide, Nitric Oxide Synthase, Soluble Guanylyl Cyclase, and cGMP-Dependent Protein Kinase I in Mouse Stem Cell Cardiac Development

1Department of Neurofarba, Pharmacology and Toxicology Unit, University of Florence, Florence, Italy
2Interuniversity Center for Molecular Medicine and Applied Biophysics, Florence, Italy

Received 9 August 2016; Accepted 26 September 2016

Academic Editor: Michael Lichtenauer

Copyright © 2016 Valentina Spinelli 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.


Introduction and Aim. Nitric oxide (NO) can trigger cardiac differentiation of embryonic stem cells (ESCs), indicating a cardiogenic function of the NO synthetizing enzyme(s) (NOS). However, the involvement of the NO/NOS downstream effectors soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC) and cGMP activated protein kinase I (PKG-I) is less defined. Therefore, we assess the involvement of the entire NO/NOS/sGC/PKG-I pathway during cardiac differentiation process. Methods. Mouse ESCs were differentiated toward cardiac lineages by hanging drop methodology for 21 days. NOS/sGC/PKG-I pathway was studied quantifying genes, proteins, enzymatic activities, and effects of inhibition during differentiation. Percentages of beating embryoid bodies (mEBs) were evaluated as an index of cardiogenesis. Results and Discussion. Genes and protein expression of enzymes were increased during differentiation with distinctive kinetics and proteins possessed their enzymatic functions. Exogenous administered NO accelerated whereas the blockade of PKG-I strongly slowed cardiogenesis. sGC inhibition was effective only at early stages and NOS blockade ineffective. Of NOS/sGC/PKG-I pathway, PKG-I seems to play the prominent role in cardiac maturation. Conclusion. We concluded that exogenous administered NO and other pharmacological strategies able to increase the activity of PKG-I provide new tools to investigate and promote differentiation of cardiogenic precursors.