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Blood. 2008 Oct 1;112(7):2730-7. doi: 10.1182/blood-2008-01-133801. Epub 2008 Jul 11.

Differences in lymphocyte developmental potential between human embryonic stem cell and umbilical cord blood-derived hematopoietic progenitor cells.

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Stem Cell Institute, Department of Medicine, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA.


Hematopoietic progenitor cells derived from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) develop into diverse mature hematopoietic lineages, including lymphocytes. Whereas functional natural killer (NK) cells can be efficiently generated in vitro from hESC-derived CD34(+) cells, studies of T- and B-cell development from hESCs have been much more limited. Here, we demonstrate that despite expressing functional Notch-1, CD34(+) cells from hESCs did not derive T cells when cocultured with OP9 cells expressing Delta-like 1, or in fetal thymus organ culture. hESC-derived CD34(+) cells also did not produce B cells in vitro. In contrast, CD34(+) cells isolated from UCB routinely generated T and B cells when cultured in the same conditions. Notably, both undifferentiated hESCs, and sorted hESC-derived populations with hematopoietic developmental potential exhibited constitutive expression of ID family genes and of transcriptional targets of stem cell factor-induced signaling. These pathways both inhibit T-cell development and promote NK-cell development. Together, these results demonstrate fundamental differences between hESC-derived hematopoietic progenitors and analogous primary human cells. Therefore, hESCs can be more readily supported to differentiate into certain cell types than others, findings that have important implications for derivation of defined lineage-committed populations from hESCs.

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