Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) offer tremendous promise in tissue engineering and cell-based therapies due to their unique combination of two properties: pluripotency and unlimited proliferative capacity. However, directed differentiation of hPSCs to clinically relevant cell lineages is needed to achieve the goal of hPSC-based therapies. This requires a deep understanding of how cell signaling pathways converge on the nucleus to control differentiation and the ability to dissect gene function in a temporal manner. Here, we report the use of the PiggyBac transposon and a Tet-On 3G drug-inducible gene expression system to achieve versatile inducible gene expression in hPSC lines. Our new system, XLone, offers improvement over previous Tet-On systems with significantly reduced background expression and increased sensitivity to doxycycline. Transgene expression in hPSCs is tightly regulated in response to doxycycline treatment. In addition, the PiggyBac elements in our XLone construct provide a rapid and efficient strategy for generating stable transgenic hPSCs. Our inducible gene expression PiggyBac transposon system should facilitate the study of gene function and directed differentiation in human stem cells.
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