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Blood. 2013 Jan 17;121(3):447-58. doi: 10.1182/blood-2012-05-431403. Epub 2012 Nov 20.

Role of SOX17 in hematopoietic development from human embryonic stem cells.

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Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, Chiba, Japan.


To search for genes that promote hematopoietic development from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), we overexpressed several known hematopoietic regulator genes in hESC/iPSC-derived CD34(+)CD43(-) endothelial cells (ECs) enriched in hemogenic endothelium (HE). Among the genes tested, only Sox17, a gene encoding a transcription factor of the SOX family, promoted cell growth and supported expansion of CD34(+)CD43(+)CD45(-/low) cells expressing the HE marker VE-cadherin. SOX17 was expressed at high levels in CD34(+)CD43(-) ECs compared with low levels in CD34(+)CD43(+)CD45(-) pre-hematopoietic progenitor cells (pre-HPCs) and CD34(+)CD43(+)CD45(+) HPCs. Sox17-overexpressing cells formed semiadherent cell aggregates and generated few hematopoietic progenies. However, they retained hemogenic potential and gave rise to hematopoietic progenies on inactivation of Sox17. Global gene-expression analyses revealed that the CD34(+)CD43(+)CD45(-/low) cells expanded on overexpression of Sox17 are HE-like cells developmentally placed between ECs and pre-HPCs. Sox17 overexpression also reprogrammed both pre-HPCs and HPCs into HE-like cells. Genome-wide mapping of Sox17-binding sites revealed that Sox17 activates the transcription of key regulator genes for vasculogenesis, hematopoiesis, and erythrocyte differentiation directly. Depletion of SOX17 in CD34(+)CD43(-) ECs severely compromised their hemogenic activity. These findings suggest that SOX17 plays a key role in priming hemogenic potential in ECs, thereby regulating hematopoietic development from hESCs/iPSCs.

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