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Multi-omic rejuvenation of human cells by maturation phase transient reprogramming
Diljeet Gill 1, Aled Parry 1, Fátima Santos 1, Hanneke Okkenhaug 2, Christopher D Todd 1, Irene Hernando-Herraez 1, Thomas M Stubbs 3, Inês Milagre 4, Wolf Reik 5
...Recent work has demonstrated that the epigenome is already rejuvenated by the maturation phase of reprogramming, which suggests full iPSC reprogramming is not required to reverse ageing of somatic cells. Here we have developed the first 'maturation phase transient reprogramming' (MPTR) method, where reprogramming factors are expressed until this rejuvenation point followed by withdrawal of their induction. Using dermal fibroblasts from middle age donors, we found that cells temporarily lose and then reacquire their fibroblast identity during MPTR, possibly as a result of epigenetic memory at enhancers and/or persistent expression of some fibroblast genes. Excitingly, our method substantially rejuvenated multiple cellular attributes including the transcriptome, which was rejuvenated by around 30 years as measured by a novel transcriptome clock. The epigenome, including H3K9me3 histone methylation levels and the DNA methylation ageing clock, was rejuvenated to a similar extent. The magnitude of rejuvenation instigated by MTPR appears substantially greater than that achieved in previous transient reprogramming protocols. In addition, MPTR fibroblasts produced youthful levels of collagen proteins, and showed partial functional rejuvenation of their migration speed. Finally, our work suggests that more extensive reprogramming does not necessarily result in greater rejuvenation but instead that optimal time windows exist for rejuvenating the transcriptome and the epigenome. Overall, we demonstrate that it is possible to separate rejuvenation from complete pluripotency reprogramming, which should facilitate the discovery of novel anti-ageing genes and therapies.