Direct cardiac reprogramming holds great promise for regenerative medicine. We previously generated directly reprogrammed induced cardiomyocyte-like cells (iCMs) by overexpression of Gata4, Mef2c, and Tbx5 (GMT) using retrovirus vectors. However, integrating vectors pose risks associated with insertional mutagenesis and disruption of gene expression and are inefficient. Here, we show that Sendai virus (SeV) vectors expressing cardiac reprogramming factors efficiently and rapidly reprogram both mouse and human fibroblasts into integration-free iCMs via robust transgene expression. SeV-GMT generated 100-fold more beating iCMs than retroviral-GMT and shortened the duration to induce beating cells from 30 to 10 days in mouse fibroblasts. In vivo lineage tracing revealed that the gene transfer of SeV-GMT was more efficient than retroviral-GMT in reprogramming resident cardiac fibroblasts into iCMs in mouse infarct hearts. Moreover, SeV-GMT improved cardiac function and reduced fibrosis after myocardial infarction. Thus, efficient, non-integrating SeV vectors may serve as a powerful system for cardiac regeneration. Ieda and colleagues show that non-integrating Sendai virus (SeV) vectors expressing cardiac reprogramming factors efficiently reprogrammed mouse and human fibroblasts into induced cardiomyocyte-like cells. In vivo delivery of SeV vectors enhanced in vivo cardiac reprogramming compared to conventional retrovirus vectors, improved cardiac function, and reduced fibrosis after myocardial infarction.
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