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Cellular and molecular changes that occur during the genesis of the hematopoietic system and hematopoietic stem cells in the human embryo are mostly inaccessible to study and remain poorly understood. To address this gap we have exploited the human embryonic stem cell (hESC) system to molecularly characterize the global transcriptomes of the two functionally discreet and phenotypically separable populations of multipotent hematopoietic cells that first appear when hESCs are induced to differentiate on OP9 cells. We prepared long serial analysis of gene expression libraries from lin-CD34+CD43+CD45- and lin-CD34+CD43+CD45+ subsets of primitive hematopoietic cells derived in vitro from hESCs, sequenced them to a depth of 200,000 tags and compared their content with similar libraries prepared from highly purified populations of very primitive human fetal liver and cord blood hematopoietic cells. Comparison of libraries obtained from hESC-derived lin-CD34+CD43+CD45- and lin-CD34+CD43+CD45+ revealed differences in their expression of genes associated with myeloid development, cellular biosynthetic processes, and cell-cycle regulation. Further comparisons with analogous data for primitive hematopoietic cells isolated from first-trimester human fetal liver and newborn cord blood showed an apparent similarity between the transcriptomes of the most primitive hESC- and in vivo-derived populations, with the main differences involving genes that regulate HSC self-renewal and homing, chromatin remodeling, AP1 transcription complex genes, and noncoding RNAs. These data suggest that primitive hematopoietic cells are generated from hESCs in vitro by processes similar to those operative during human embryogenesis in vivo, although some differences were also detected.


Giorgia Salvagiotto, Yun Zhao, Maxim Vodyanik, Victor Ruotti, Ronald Stewart, Marco Marra, James Thomson, Connie Eaves, Igor Slukvin. Molecular profiling reveals similarities and differences between primitive subsets of hematopoietic cells generated in vitro from human embryonic stem cells and in vivo during embryogenesis. Experimental hematology. 2008 Oct;36(10):1377-89

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PMID: 18922365

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