While earlier studies have demonstrated that the induction of four key transcription factors can reprogram adult mouse and human skin cells into iPS cells, but iPS cells have not been created in other species as yet.
"We sought to generate monkey iPS cells from skin cells isolated an adult male rhesus macaque using the predicted monkey transcription factors OCT4, SOX2, KLF4 and c-MYC," explained Dr. Hongkui Deng from the Key Laboratory of Cell Proliferation and Differentiation at Peking University in Beijing, China.
For the study, the researchers used retroviruses expressing these four factors to infect adult monkey skin cells.
The strategy led to creation of cells, which displayed multiple hallmarks of embryonic stem (ES) cells.
Specifically, the cells exhibited physical characteristics associated with ES cells, expressed genes appropriate for ES cells and possessed the ability to develop into multiple types of differentiated cells.
The results indicate that monkey iPS cells can be generated using the same four transcription factors that have been used to successfully create mouse and human iPS cells.
According to the scientists, the work has multiple exciting applications.
"As the rhesus macaque is the most relevant primate model for most human diseases, highly efficient generation of monkey iPS cells would allow investigation of the treatment of various diseases in this model. In addition, direct reprogramming with the four transcription factors could be a universal strategy for generating iPS cells in other species," said Deng.
The study was published in the December issue of the journal Cell Stem Cell.