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Feher, Anita; Schnur, Andrea; Muenthaisong, Suchitra; Bellak, Tamas; Ayaydin, Ferhan; Varady, Gyorgy; Kemter, Elisabeth; Wolf, Eckhard and Dinnyes, Andras (2022): Establishment and characterization of a novel human induced pluripotent stem cell line stably expressing the iRFP720 reporter. In: Scientific Reports, Vol. 12, No. 1, 9874

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Stem cell therapy has great potential for replacing beta-cell loss in diabetic patients. However, a key obstacle to cell therapy's success is to preserve viability and function of the engrafted cells. While several strategies have been developed to improve engrafted beta-cell survival, tools to evaluate the efficacy within the body by imaging are limited. Traditional labeling tools, such as GFP-like fluorescent proteins, have limited penetration depths in vivo due to tissue scattering and absorption. To circumvent this limitation, a near-infrared fluorescent mutant version of the DrBphP bacteriophytochrome, iRFP720, has been developed for in vivo imaging and stem/progenitor cell tracking. Here, we present the generation and characterization of an iRFP720 expressing human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) line, which can be used for real-time imaging in various biological applications. To generate the transgenic cells, the CRISPR/Cas9 technology was applied. A puromycin resistance gene was inserted into the AAVS1 locus, driven by the endogenous PPP1R12C promoter, along with the CAG-iRFP720 reporter cassette, which was flanked by insulator elements. Proper integration of the transgene into the targeted genomic region was assessed by comprehensive genetic analysis, verifying precise genome editing. Stable expression of iRFP720 in the cells was confirmed and imaged by their near-infrared fluorescence. We demonstrated that the reporter iPSCs exhibit normal stem cell characteristics and can be efficiently differentiated towards the pancreatic lineage. As the genetically modified reporter cells show retained pluripotency and multilineage differentiation potential, they hold great potential as a cellular model in a variety of biological and pharmacological applications.

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