BMC, BMC Genomics, 1(15), p. 910
Abstract Background Human Mesenchymal Stromal/Stem Cells (MSCs) are adult multipotent cells that behave in a highly plastic manner, inhabiting the stroma of several tissues. The potential utility of MSCs is nowadays strongly investigated in the field of regenerative medicine and cell therapy, although many questions about their molecular identity remain uncertain. Results MSC primary cultures from human bone marrow (BM) and placenta (PL) were derived and verified by their immunophenotype standard pattern and trilineage differentiation potential. Then, a broad characterization of the transcriptome of these MSCs was performed using RNA deep sequencing (RNA-Seq). Quantitative analysis of these data rendered an extensive expression footprint that includes 5,271 protein-coding genes. Flow cytometry assays of canonical MSC CD-markers were congruent with their expression levels detected by the RNA-Seq. Expression of other recently proposed MSC markers (CD146, Nestin and CD271) was tested in the placenta samples, finding only CD146 and Nestin. Functional analysis revealed enrichment in stem cell related genes and mesenchymal regulatory transcription factors (TFs). Analysis of TF binding sites (TFBSs) identified 11 meta-regulators, including factors KLF4 and MYC among them. Epigenetically, hypomethylated promoter patterns supported the active expression of the MSC TFs found. An interaction network of these TFs was built to show up their links and relations. Assessment of dissimilarities between cell origins (BM versus PL) disclosed two hundred differentially expressed genes enrolled in microenvironment processes related to the cellular niche, as regulation of bone formation and blood vessel morphogenesis for the case of BM-MSCs. By contrast genes overexpressed in PL-MSCs showed functional enrichment on mitosis, negative regulation of cell-death and embryonic morphogenesis that supported the higher growth rates observed in the cultures of these fetal cells and their closer links with development processes. Conclusions The results present a transcriptomic portrait of the human MSCs isolated from bone marrow and placenta. The data are released as a cell-specific resource, providing a comprehensive expression footprint of the MSCs useful to better understand their cellular and molecular biology and for further investigations on the isolation and biomedical use of these multipotent cells.