Abcg2-expressing side population cells contribute to cardiomyocyte renewal through fusion

Amritha Yellamilli, Yi Ren, Ron T. McElmurry, Jonathan P. Lambert, Polina Gross, Sadia Mohsin, Steven R. Houser, John W. Elrod, Jakub Tolar, Daniel J. Garry, Jop H. van Berlo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The adult mammalian heart has a limited regenerative capacity. Therefore, identification of endogenous cells and mechanisms that contribute to cardiac regeneration is essential for the development of targeted therapies. The side population (SP) phenotype has been used to enrich for stem cells throughout the body; however, SP cells isolated from the heart have been studied exclusively in cell culture or after transplantation, limiting our understanding of their function in vivo. We generated a new Abcg2-driven lineage-tracing mouse model with efficient labeling of SP cells. Labeled SP cells give rise to terminally differentiated cells in bone marrow and intestines. In the heart, labeled SP cells give rise to lineage-traced cardiomyocytes under homeostatic conditions with an increase in this contribution following cardiac injury. Instead of differentiating into cardiomyocytes like proposed cardiac progenitor cells, cardiac SP cells fuse with preexisting cardiomyocytes to stimulate cardiomyocyte cell cycle reentry. Our study is the first to show that fusion between cardiomyocytes and non-cardiomyocytes, identified by the SP phenotype, contribute to endogenous cardiac regeneration by triggering cardiomyocyte cell cycle reentry in the adult mammalian heart.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5642-5657
Number of pages16
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020



  • cardiac regeneration
  • cardiomyocyte proliferation
  • fusion
  • side population

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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