Mapping SOX9 transcriptional dynamics during multi-lineage differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells

Kannan Govindaraj, Sakshi Khurana, Marcel Karperien, Janine N. Post*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Working paperPreprintAcademic


The master transcription factor SOX9 is a key player during chondrocyte differentiation, cartilage development, homeostasis and disease. Modulation of SOX9 and its target gene expression is essential during chondrogenic, osteogenic and adipogenic differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs). However, lack of sufficient knowledge about the signaling interplay during differentiation remains one of the main reasons preventing successful application of hMSCs in regenerative medicine. We previously showed that Transcription Factor – Fluorescence Recovery After Photobleaching (TF-FRAP) can be used to study SOX9 dynamics at the single cell level. We showed that changes in SOX9 dynamics are linked to its transcriptional activity. Here, we investigated SOX9 dynamics during differentiation of hMSCs into the chondrogenic, osteogenic and adipogenic lineages. We show that there are clusters of cells in hMSCs with distinct SOX9 dynamics, indicating that there are a number of subpopulations present in the heterogeneous hMSCs. SOX9 dynamics data at the single cell resolution revealed novel insights about its activity in these subpopulations (cell types). In addition, the response of SOX9 to differentiation stimuli varied in these subpopulations. Moreover, we identified donor specific differences in the number of cells per cluster in undifferentiated hMSCs, and this correlated to their differentiation potential.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2021


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