Generation of Integration-Free Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells from Urine-Derived Cells Isolated from Individuals with Down Syndrome

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Down syndrome (DS) is a genetic disorder caused by trisomy 21 (T21). Over the past two decades, the use of mouse models has led to significant advances in the understanding of mechanisms underlying various phenotypic features and comorbidities secondary to T21 and even informed the design of clinical trials aimed at enhancing the cognitive abilities of persons with DS. In spite of its success, this approach has been plagued by all the typical limitations of rodent modeling of human disorders and diseases. Recently, several laboratories have succeeded in producing T21 human induced pluripotent stem cells (T21-iPSCs) from individuals with DS, which is emerging as a promising complementary tool for the study of DS. Here, we describe the method by which we generated 10 T21-iPSC lines from epithelial cells in urine samples, presumably from kidney epithelial origin, using nonintegrating episomal vectors. We also show that these iPSCs maintain chromosomal stability for well over 20 passages and are more sensitive to proteotoxic stress than euploid iPSCs. Furthermore, these iPSC lines can be differentiated into glutamatergic neurons and cardiomyocytes. By culturing urine-derived cells and maximizing the efficiency of episomal vector transfection, we have been able to generate iPSCs noninvasively and effectively from participants with DS in an ongoing clinical trial, and thus address most shortcomings of previously generated T21-iPSC lines. These techniques should extend the application of iPSCs in modeling DS and other neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders, and may lead to future human cell-based platforms for high-throughput drug screening. Stem Cells Translational Medicine 2017;6:1465–1476

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