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Cambridge, MA, United States

Sahara M.,Divinity Avenue | Sahara M.,Harvard Stem Cell Institute | Sahara M.,Massachusetts General Hospital | Sahara M.,Karolinska Institutet | And 12 more authors.
Cell Research

Human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC)-derived endothelial lineage cells constitutes a promising source for therapeutic revascularization, but progress in this arena has been hampered by a lack of clinically-scalable differentiation protocols and inefficient formation of a functional vessel network integrating with the host circulation upon transplantation. Using a human embryonic stem cell reporter cell line, where green fluorescent protein expression is driven by an endothelial cell-specific VE-cadherin (VEC) promoter, we screened for > 60 bioactive small molecules that would promote endothelial differentiation, and found that administration of BMP4 and a GSK-3β inhibitor in an early phase and treatment with VEGF-A and inhibition of the Notch signaling pathway in a later phase led to efficient differentiation of hPSCs to the endothelial lineage within six days. This sequential approach generated > 50% conversion of hPSCs to endothelial cells (ECs), specifically VEC + CD31 + CD34 + CD14 -KDR high endothelial progenitors (EPs) that exhibited higher angiogenic and clonogenic proliferation potential among endothelial lineage cells. Pharmaceutical inhibition or genetical knockdown of Notch signaling, in combination with VEGF-A treatment, resulted in efficient formation of EPs via KDR + mesodermal precursors and blockade of the conversion of EPs to mature ECs. The generated EPs successfully formed functional capillary vessels in vivo with anastomosis to the host vessels when transplanted into immunocompromised mice. Manipulation of this VEGF-A-Notch signaling circuit in our protocol leads to rapid large-scale production of the hPSC-derived EPs by 12-to 20-fold vs current methods, which may serve as an attractive cell population for regenerative vascularization with superior vessel forming capability compared to mature ECs.© 2014 IBCB, SIBS, CAS All rights reserved. Source

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