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Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common chronic arrhythmia presenting a heavy disease burden. We report a new approach for generating cardiomyocytes (CMs) resembling atrial cells from human-induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) using a combination of Gremlin 2 and retinoic acid treatment. More than 40% of myocytes showed rod-shaped morphology, expression of CM proteins (including ryanodine receptor 2, α-actinin-2 and F-actin) and striated appearance, all of which were broadly similar to the characteristics of adult atrial myocytes (AMs). Isolated myocytes were electrically quiescent until stimulated to fire action potentials with an AM profile and an amplitude of approximately 100 mV, arising from a resting potential of approximately -70 mV. Single-cell RNA sequence analysis showed a high level of expression of several atrial-specific transcripts including NPPA, MYL7, HOXA3, SLN, KCNJ4, KCNJ5 and KCNA5. Amplitudes of calcium transients recorded from spontaneously beating cultures were increased by the stimulation of α-adrenoceptors (activated by phenylephrine and blocked by prazosin) or β-adrenoceptors (activated by isoproterenol and blocked by CGP20712A). Our new approach provides human AMs with mature characteristics from hiPSCs which will facilitate drug discovery by enabling the study of human atrial cell signalling pathways and AF. This article is part of the theme issue 'The heartbeat: its molecular basis and physiological mechanisms'.

Original publication




Journal article


Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci

Publication Date





Gremlin 2, adrenergic receptor, calcium, iPSC-derived atrial cardiomyocytes, iPSCs, retinoic acid