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Development. 1998 May;125(9):1747-57.

Progressive lineage analysis by cell sorting and culture identifies FLK1+VE-cadherin+ cells at a diverging point of endothelial and hemopoietic lineages.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Genetics, Faculty of Medicine, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan.


Totipotent murine ES cells have an enormous potential for the study of cell specification. Here we demonstrate that ES cells can differentiate to hemopoietic cells through the proximal lateral mesoderm, merely upon culturing in type IV collagen-coated dishes. Separation of the Flk1+ mesoderm from other cell lineages was critical for hemopoietic cell differentiation, whereas formation of the embryoid body was not. Since the two-dimensionally spreading cells can be monitored easily in real time, this culture system will greatly facilitate the study of the mechanisms involved in the cell specification to mesoderm, endothelial, and hemopoietic cells. In the culture of ES cells, however, lineages and stages of differentiating cells can only be defined by their own characteristics. We showed that a combination of monoclonal antibodies against E-cadherin, Flk1/KDR, PDGF receptor(alpha), VE-cadherin, CD45 and Ter119 was sufficient to define most intermediate stages during differentiation of ES cells to blood cells. Using this culture system and surface markers, we determined the following order for blood cell differentiation: ES cell (E-cadherin+Flk1-PDGFRalpha-), proximal lateral mesoderm (E-cadherin-Flk1+VE-cadherin-), progenitor with hemoangiogenic potential (Flk1+VE-cadherin+CD45-), hemopoietic progenitor (CD45+c-Kit+) and mature blood cells (c-Kit-CD45+ or Ter119+), though direct differentiation of blood cells from the Flk1+VE-cadherin- stage cannot be ruled out. Not only the VE-cadherin+CD45- population generated from ES cells but also those directly sorted from the yolk sac of 9.5 dpc embryos have a potential to give rise to hemopoietic cells. Progenitors with hemoangiogenic potential were identified in both the Flk1+VE-cadherin- and Flk1+VE-cadherin+ populations by the single cell deposition experiment. This line of evidence implicates Flk1+VE-cadherin+ cells as a diverging point of hemopoietic and endothelial cell lineages.

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