Biphasic Regulation of Mesenchymal Genes Controls Fate Switches During Hematopoietic Differentiation of Human Pluripotent Stem Cells.
ABSTRACT: Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) or its reverse process mesenchymal-epithelial transition (MET) occurs in multiple physiological and pathological processes. However, whether an entire EMT-MET process exists and the potential function during human hematopoiesis remain largely elusive. Utilizing human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC)-based systems, it is discovered that while EMT occurs at the onset of human hematopoietic differentiation, MET is not detected subsequently during differentiation. Instead, a biphasic activation of mesenchymal genes during hematopoietic differentiation of hPSCs is observed. The expression of mesenchymal genes is upregulated during the fate switch from pluripotency to the mesoderm, sustained at the hemogenic endothelium (HE) stage, and attenuated during hemogenic endothelial cell (HEP) differentiation to hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs). A similar expression pattern of mesenchymal genes is also observed during human and murine hematopoietic development in vivo. Wnt signaling and its downstream gene SNAI1 mediate the up-regulation of mesenchymal genes and initiation of mesoderm induction from pluripotency. Inhibition of transforming growth factor-? (TGF-?) signaling and downregulation of HAND1, a downstream gene of TGF-?, are required for the downregulation of mesenchymal genes and the capacity of HEPs to generate HPCs. These results suggest that the biphasic regulation of mesenchymal genes is an essential mechanism during human hematopoiesis.
Project description:Embryonic hematopoiesis is a complex process. Elucidating the mechanism regulating hematopoietic differentiation from pluripotent stem cells would allow us to establish a strategy to efficiently generate hematopoietic cells. However, the mechanism governing the generation of hematopoietic progenitors from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) remains unknown. Here, on the basis of the emergence of CD43(+) hematopoietic cells from hemogenic endothelial (HE) cells, we demonstrated that VEGF was essential and sufficient, and that bFGF was synergistic with VEGF to specify the HE cells and the subsequent transition into CD43(+) hematopoietic cells. Significantly, we identified TGF? as a novel signal to regulate hematopoietic development, as the TGF? inhibitor SB 431542 significantly promoted the transition from HE cells into CD43(+) hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs) during hESC differentiation. By defining these critical signaling factors during hematopoietic differentiation, we can efficiently generate HPCs from hESCs. Our strategy could offer an in vitro model to study early human hematopoietic development.
Project description:WNT/?-CATENIN signaling promotes the hematopoietic/endothelial differentiation of human embryonic stem cells and human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs). The transient addition of a GSK3? inhibitor (GSKi) has been found to facilitate in vitro endothelial cell differentiation from hESCs/hiPSCs. Because hematopoietic and endothelial cells are derived from common progenitors (hemogenic endothelial progenitors [HEPs]), we examined the effect of transient GSKi treatment on hematopoietic cell differentiation from hiPSCs. We found that transient GSKi treatment at the start of hiPSC differentiation induction altered the gene expression profile of the cells. Multiple CDX/HOX genes, which are expressed in the posterior mesoderm of developing embryos, were significantly upregulated by GSKi treatment. Further, inclusion of the GSKi in a serum- and stroma-free culture with chemically defined medium efficiently induced HEPs, and the HEPs gave rise to various lineages of hematopoietic and endothelial cells. Therefore, transient WNT/?-CATENIN signaling triggers activation of the CDX/HOX pathway, which in turn confers hemogenic posterior mesoderm identity to differentiating hiPSCs. These data enhance our understanding of human embryonic hematopoietic/endothelial cell development and provide a novel in vitro system for inducing the differentiation of hematopoietic cells from hiPSCs.
Project description:To support tissue and organ development, cells transition between epithelial and mesenchymal states. Here, we have investigated how mesoderm cells change state in Drosophila embryos and whether fibroblast growth factor (FGF) signaling plays a role. During gastrulation, presumptive mesoderm cells invaginate, undergo an epithelial-to-mesenchymal state transition (EMT) and migrate upon the ectoderm. Our data show that EMT is a prolonged process in which adherens junctions progressively decrease in number throughout the migration of mesoderm cells. FGF influences adherens junction number and promotes mesoderm cell division, which we propose decreases cell-cell attachments to support slow EMT while retaining collective cell movement. We also found that, at the completion of migration, cells form a monolayer and undergo a reverse mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET). FGF activity leads to accumulation of β-integrin Myospheroid basally and cell polarity factor Bazooka apically within mesoderm cells, thereby reestablishing apicobasal cell polarity in an epithelialized state in which cells express both E-Cadherin and N-Cadherin. In summary, FGF plays a dynamic role in supporting mesoderm cell development to ensure collective mesoderm cell movements, as well as proper differentiation of mesoderm cell types.
Project description:Endothelial-to-hematopoietic transition (EHT) is an important stage in definitive hematopoietic development. However, the genetic mechanisms underlying human EHT remain poorly characterized. We performed single cell RNA-seq using 55 hemogenic endothelial cells (HECs: CD31+ CD144+ CD41- CD43- CD45- CD73- RUNX1c+ ), 47 vascular endothelial cells without hematopoietic potential (non-HE: CD31+ CD144+ CD41- CD43- CD45- CD73- RUNX1c- ), and 35 hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs: CD34+ CD43+ RUNX1c+ ) derived from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). HE and HP were enriched in genes implicated in hemogenic endothelial transcriptional networks, such as ERG, GATA2, and FLI. We found transcriptional overlap between individual HECs and HPCs; however, these populations were distinct from non-HE. Further analysis revealed novel biomarkers for human HEC/HPCs, including TIMP3, ESAM, RHOJ, and DLL4. Collectively, we demonstrate that hESC-derived HE and HP share a common developmental pathway, while non-HE are more heterogeneous and transcriptionally distinct. Our findings provide a novel strategy to test new genetic targets and optimize the production of definitive hematopoietic cells from human pluripotent stem cells. Stem Cells 2018;36:206-217.
Project description:The differentiation of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) to hematopoietic lineages initiates with the specification of hemogenic endothelium, a transient specialized endothelial precursor of all blood cells. This in vitro system provides an invaluable model to dissect the emergence of hematopoiesis in humans. However, the study of hematopoiesis specification is hampered by a lack of consensus in the timing of hemogenic endothelium analysis and the full hematopoietic potential of this population. Here, our data reveal a sharp decline in the hemogenic potential of endothelium populations isolated over the course of hESC differentiation. Furthermore, by tracking the dynamic expression of CD31 and CD235a at the onset of hematopoiesis, we identified three populations of hematopoietic progenitors, representing primitive and definitive subsets that all emerge from the earliest specified hemogenic endothelium. Our data establish that hemogenic endothelium populations endowed with primitive and definitive hematopoietic potential are specified simultaneously from the mesoderm in differentiating hESCs.
Project description:In vertebrates, GATA2 is a master regulator of hematopoiesis and is expressed throughout embryo development and in adult life. Although the essential role of GATA2 in mouse hematopoiesis is well established, its involvement during early human hematopoietic development is not clear. By combining time-controlled overexpression of GATA2 with genetic knockout experiments, we found that GATA2, at the mesoderm specification stage, promotes the generation of hemogenic endothelial progenitors and their further differentiation to hematopoietic progenitor cells, and negatively regulates cardiac differentiation. Surprisingly, genome-wide transcriptional and chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis showed that GATA2 bound to regulatory regions, and repressed the expression of cardiac development-related genes. Moreover, genes important for hematopoietic differentiation were upregulated by GATA2 in a mostly indirect manner. Collectively, our data reveal a hitherto unrecognized role of GATA2 as a repressor of cardiac fates, and highlight the importance of coordinating the specification and repression of alternative cell fates.
Project description:During early cardiogenesis, bilateral fields of mesenchymal heart progenitor cells (HPCs) move from the anterior lateral plate mesoderm to the ventral midline, undergoing a mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET) en route to forming a single epithelial sheet. Through tracking of tissue-level deformations in the heart-forming region (HFR) as well as movement trajectories and traction generation of individual HPCs, we find that the onset of MET correlates with a peak in mechanical stress within the HFR and changes in HPC migratory behaviors. Small-molecule inhibitors targeting actomyosin contractility reveal a temporally specific requirement of bulk tissue compliance to regulate heart development and MET. Targeting mutant constructs to modulate contractility and compliance in the underlying endoderm, we find that MET in HPCs can be accelerated in response to microenvironmental stiffening and can be inhibited by softening. To test whether MET in HPCs was responsive to purely physical mechanical cues, we mimicked a high-stress state by injecting an inert oil droplet to generate high strain in the HFR, demonstrating that exogenously applied stress was sufficient to drive MET. MET-induced defects in anatomy result in defined functional lesions in the larval heart, implicating mechanical signaling and MET in the etiology of congenital heart defects. From this integrated analysis of HPC polarity and mechanics, we propose that normal heart development requires bilateral HPCs to undergo a critical behavioral and phenotypic transition on their way to the ventral midline, and that this transition is driven in response to the changing mechanical properties of their endoderm substrate.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) provide supplies of potential functional blood cells to suffice the clinical needs. However, the underlying mechanism of generating genuine hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and functional blood cells from hPSCs remains largely elusive. METHOD:In this study, we supplied R-spondin2 exogenously during hematopoietic differentiation of hPSCs under various culture conditions and analyzed the production of hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs). We further added R-spondin2 at different temporal window to pin down the stage at which R-spondin2 conferred its effects. RNA-SEQ-based gene profiling was applied to analyze genes with significantly altered expression and altered signaling pathways. Finally, megakaryocytic differentiation and platelet generation were determined using HPCs with R-spondin2 treatment. RESULTS:We found that R-spondin2 generated by hematopoiesis-supporting stromal cells significantly enhances hematopoietic differentiation of hPSCs. Supply of R-spondin2 exogenously at the early stage of mesoderm differentiation elevates the generation of APLNR+ cells. Furthermore, early treatment of cells with R-spondin2 enables us to increase the output of hPSC-derived platelet-like particles (PLPs) with intact function. At the mechanistic level, R-spondin2 activates TGF-? signaling to promote the hematopoietic differentiation. CONCLUSIONS:Our results demonstrate that a transient supply of R-spondin2 can efficiently promote hematopoietic development by activating both WNT and TGF-? signaling. R-spondin2 can be therefore used as a powerful tool for large-scale generation of functional hematopoietic progenitors and platelets for translational medicine.
Project description:Advancements in human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC) research have potential to revolutionize therapeutic transplantation. It has been demonstrated that transcription factors may play key roles in regulating maintenance, expansion, and differentiation of hPSCs. In addition to its regulatory functions in hematopoiesis and blood-related disorders, the transcription factor RUNX1 is also required for the formation of definitive blood stem cells. In this study, we demonstrated that expression of endogenous RUNX1a, an isoform of RUNX1, parallels with lineage commitment and hematopoietic emergence from hPSCs, including both human embryonic stem cells and inducible pluripotent stem cells. In a defined hematopoietic differentiation system, ectopic expression of RUNX1a facilitates emergence of hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs) and positively regulates expression of mesoderm and hematopoietic differentiation-related factors, including Brachyury, KDR, SCL, GATA2, and PU.1. HPCs derived from RUNX1a hPSCs show enhanced expansion ability, and the ex vivo-expanded cells are capable of differentiating into multiple lineages. Expression of RUNX1a in embryoid bodies (EBs) promotes definitive hematopoiesis that generates erythrocytes with ?-globin production. Moreover, HPCs generated from RUNX1a EBs possess ?9-week repopulation ability and show multilineage hematopoietic reconstitution in vivo. Together, our results suggest that RUNX1a facilitates the process of producing therapeutic HPCs from hPSCs.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Differentiation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) toward hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs) raises high hopes for disease modeling, drug screening, and cellular therapy. Various differentiation protocols have been established to generate iPSC-derived HPCs (iHPCs) that resemble their primary counterparts in morphology and immunophenotype, whereas a systematic epigenetic comparison was yet elusive. RESULTS:In this study, we compared genome-wide DNA methylation (DNAm) patterns of iHPCs with various different hematopoietic subsets. After 20?days of in vitro differentiation, cells revealed typical hematopoietic morphology, CD45 expression, and colony-forming unit (CFU) potential. DNAm changes were particularly observed in genes that are associated with hematopoietic differentiation. On the other hand, the epigenetic profiles of iHPCs remained overall distinct from natural HPCs. Furthermore, we analyzed if additional co-culture for 2 weeks with syngenic primary mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) or iPSC-derived MSCs (iMSCs) further supports epigenetic maturation toward the hematopoietic lineage. Proliferation of iHPCs and maintenance of CFU potential was enhanced upon co-culture. However, DNAm profiles support the notion that additional culture expansion with stromal support did not increase epigenetic maturation of iHPCs toward natural HPCs. CONCLUSION:Differentiation of iPSCs toward the hematopoietic lineage remains epigenetically incomplete. These results substantiate the need to elaborate advanced differentiation regimen while DNAm profiles provide a suitable measure to track this process.