Targeted Cell Fusion Facilitates Stable Heterokaryon Generation In Vitro and In Vivo

>Induced cell fusion has enabled several important discoveries, including the phenomenon of nuclear reprogramming and may yet be applied as a novel therapy for degenerative diseases. However, existing fusogens lack the efficiency required to enable investigation of the epigenetic modifications underlying nuclear reprogramming and the specificity required for clinical application. Here we present a chimeric measles hemagglutinin, Hα7, which specifically and efficiently mediates the fusion of diverse cell types with skeletal muscle both in vitro and in vivo. When compared directly to polyethylene glycol, Hα7 consistently generated a substantial increase in heterokaryon yield and exhibited insignificant levels of toxicity. Moreover, this increased fusion efficiency enabled detection of chromatin modifications associated with nuclear reprogramming following Hα7-mediated fusion of human fibroblasts and mouse myotubes. Finally, Hα7 was also capable of increasing the contribution of transplanted fibroblasts to skeletal muscle repair in vivo, suggesting that this strategy could be used for therapeutic gene delivery.

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