The Francis Crick Institute
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A non-toxic concentration of telomerase inhibitor BIBR1532 fails to reduce TERT expression in a feeder-free induced pluripotent stem cell model of human motor neurogenesis

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-04-09, 10:21 authored by VA Pandya, H Crerar, JS Mitchell, R Patani
Several studies have shown that human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derivatives are essentially fetal in terms of their maturational status. Inducing ageing in iPSC-motor neuron (MN) models of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) has the potential to capture pathology with higher fidelity and consequently improve translational success. We show here that the telomerase inhibitor BIBR1532, hypothesised to recapitulate the telomere attrition hallmark of ageing in iPSC-MNs, was in fact cytotoxic to feeder-free iPSCs when used at doses previously shown to be effective in iPSCs grown on a layer of mouse embryonic fibroblasts. Toxicity in feeder-free cultures was not rescued by co-treatment with Rho Kinase (ROCK) inhibitor (Y-27632). Moreover, the highest concentration of BIBR1532 compatible with continued iPSC culture proved insufficient to induce detectable telomerase inhibition. Our data suggest that direct toxicity by BIBR1532 is the most likely cause of iPSC death observed, and that culture methods may influence enhanced toxicity. Therefore, recapitulation of ageing hallmarks in iPSC-MNs, which might reveal novel and relevant human disease targets in ALS, is not achievable in feeder-free culture through the use of this small molecule telomerase inhibitor.