[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) herald tremendous promise for the production of clinically useful cell types for the treatment of injury and disease. Numerous reports demonstrate their differentiation into definitive endoderm (DE) cells, the germ layer from which pancreatic β cells and hepatocytes arise, solely from exposure to a high dose of recombinant Activin/Nodal. We show that combining a second related ligand, BMP4, in combination with Activin A yields 15%-20% more DE as compared with Activin A alone. The addition of recombinant BMP4 accelerates the downregulation of pluripotency genes, particularly SOX2, and results in upregulation of endogenous BMP2 and BMP4, which in turn leads to elevated levels of phospho-SMAD1/5/8. Combined Activin A and BMP4 treatment also leads to an increase in the expression of DE genes CXCR4, SOX17, and FOXA2 when compared with Activin A addition alone. Comparative microarray studies between DE cells harvested on day 3 of differentiation further reveal a novel set of genes upregulated in response to initial BMP4 exposure. Several of these, including APLNR, LRIG3, MCC, LEPREL1, ROR2, and LZTS1, are expressed in the mouse primitive streak, the site of DE formation. Thus, this synergism between Activin A and BMP4 during the in vitro differentiation of hESC into DE suggests a complex interplay between BMP and Activin/Nodal signaling during the in vivo allocation and expansion of the endoderm lineage.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human embryonic stem (hES) cells represent a potentially unlimited source of transplantable beta-cells for the treatment of diabetes. Here we describe a differentiation strategy that reproducibly directs HES3, an National Institutes of Health (NIH)-registered hES cell line, into cells of the pancreatic endocrine lineage. HES3 cells are removed from their feeder layer and cultured as embryoid bodies in a three-dimensional matrix in the presence of Activin A and Bmp4 to induce definitive endoderm. Next, growth factors known to promote the proliferation and differentiation of pancreatic ductal epithelial cells to glucose-sensing, insulin-secreting beta-cells are added. Pdx1 expression, which identifies pancreatic progenitors, is detected as early as day 12 of differentiation. By day 34, Pdx1+ cells comprise between 5% and 20% of the total cell population and Insulin gene expression is up-regulated, with release of C-peptide into the culture medium. Unlike another recent report of the induction of insulin+ cells in differentiated hES cell populations, we are unable to detect the expression of other pancreatic hormones in insulin+ cells. When transplanted into severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mice, differentiated cell populations retain their endocrine identity and synthesize insulin.
Stem Cells and Development 09/2007; 16(4):561-78. DOI:10.1089/scd.2007.0029 · 3.73 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cultured human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines are an invaluable resource because they provide a uniform and stable genetic system for functional analyses and therapeutic applications. Nevertheless, these dividing cells, like other cells, probably undergo spontaneous mutation at a rate of 10(-9) per nucleotide. Because each mutant has only a few progeny, the overall biological properties of the cell culture are not altered unless a mutation provides a survival or growth advantage. Clonal evolution that leads to emergence of a dominant mutant genotype may potentially affect cellular phenotype as well. We assessed the genomic fidelity of paired early- and late-passage hESC lines in the course of tissue culture. Relative to early-passage lines, eight of nine late-passage hESC lines had one or more genomic alterations commonly observed in human cancers, including aberrations in copy number (45%), mitochondrial DNA sequence (22%) and gene promoter methylation (90%), although the latter was essentially restricted to 2 of 14 promoters examined. The observation that hESC lines maintained in vitro develop genetic and epigenetic alterations implies that periodic monitoring of these lines will be required before they are used in in vivo applications and that some late-passage hESC lines may be unusable for therapeutic purposes.