14 November 2019
Bone marrow derived mesenchymal stromal cells (BMSCs) are multipotent progenitors of particular interest for cell-based tissue engineering therapies. However, one disadvantage that limit their clinical use is their heterogeneity. In the last decades a great effort was made to select BMSC subpopulations based on cell surface markers, however there is still no general consensus on which markers to use to obtain the best BMSCs for tissue regeneration. Looking for alternatives we decided to focus on a probe-based method to detect intracellular mRNA in living cells, the SmartFlare technology. This technology does not require fixation of the cells and allows us to sort living cells based on gene expression into functionally different populations. However, since the technology is available it is debated whether the probes specifically recognize their target mRNAs. We validated the TWIST1 probe and demonstrated that it specifically recognizes TWIST1 in BMSCs. However, differences in probe concentration, incubation time and cellular uptake can strongly influence signal specificity. In addition we found that TWIST1 high expressing cells have an increased expansion rate compared to TWIST1 low expressing cells derived from the same initial population of BMSCs. The SmartFlare probes recognize their target gene, however for each probe and cell type validation of the protocol is necessary.