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Expansion and maintenance of human embryonic stem cell–derived endothelial cells by TGFβ inhibition is Id1 dependent

Nature Biotechnology volume 28, pages 161166 (2010) | Download Citation


Previous efforts to differentiate human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) into endothelial cells have not achieved sustained expansion and stability of vascular cells. To define vasculogenic developmental pathways and enhance differentiation, we used an endothelial cell–specific VE-cadherin promoter driving green fluorescent protein (GFP) (hVPr-GFP) to screen for factors that promote vascular commitment. In phase 1 of our method, inhibition of transforming growth factor (TGF)β at day 7 of differentiation increases hVPr-GFP+ cells by tenfold. In phase 2, TGFβ inhibition maintains the proliferation and vascular identity of purified endothelial cells, resulting in a net 36-fold expansion of endothelial cells in homogenous monolayers, which exhibited a transcriptional profile of Id1highVEGFR2highVE-cadherin+ ephrinB2+. Using an Id1-YFP hESC reporter line, we showed that TGFβ inhibition sustains Id1 expression in hESC-derived endothelial cells and that Id1 is required for increased proliferation and preservation of endothelial cell commitment. Our approach provides a serum-free method for differentiation and long-term maintenance of hESC-derived endothelial cells at a scale relevant to clinical application.

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We thank A. Brivanlou for providing the RUES1 hESC line. D.J., M.S. and G.L. are Fiona and Stanley Druckenmiller Fellows of the New York Stem Cell Foundation. S.R. is supported by Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Ansary Stem Cell Institute; Anbinder and Newmans Own Foundation; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute R01 grants HL075234 and HL097797; Qatar National Priorities Research Program; and Empire State Stem Cell Board and New York State Department of Health, NYS C024180.

Author information

Author notes

    • Hyung-song Nam

    Present address: Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, New York, USA.

    • Hyung-song Nam
    •  & Marco Seandel

    These authors contributed equally to this work.


  1. Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Ansary Stem Cell Institute, Department of Genetic Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, New York, USA.

    • Daylon James
    • , Marco Seandel
    • , Daniel Nolan
    • , Tyler Janovitz
    • , David Lyden
    • , Sina Y Rabbany
    •  & Shahin Rafii
  2. Program in Cancer Biology and Genetics, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York, USA.

    • Hyung-song Nam
    •  & Robert Benezra
  3. Division of Medical Oncology, Department of Medicine, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York, USA.

    • Marco Seandel
  4. Developmental Biology Program, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York, USA.

    • Mark Tomishima
    • , Lorenz Studer
    •  & Gabsang Lee
  5. Ronald O. Perelman and Claudia Cohen Center for Reproductive Medicine, New York, New York, USA.

    • Nikica Zaninovic
    •  & Zev Rosenwaks
  6. Bioengineering Program, Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York, USA.

    • Sina Y Rabbany


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D.J. designed and performed the experiments and wrote the manuscript. H.-s.N. and R.B. designed and created the Id1-YFP BAC transgenic vector. M.S. performed experiments and contributed to the manuscript. D.N. performed flow cytometric experiments. T.J. performed molecular cloning. M.T. and L.S. generated the Id1-YFP BAC transgenic hESC line. L.S. and G.L. generated the FD iPSC line. N.Z. and Z.R. generated the hESC lines WMC2, WMC8 and WMC9. D.L. and S.Y.R. designed experiments and performed data analysis. S.R. designed experiments and wrote the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Shahin Rafii.

Supplementary information

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    Supplementary Text and Figures

    Supplementary Figs.1–5 and Supplementary Tables 1


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    Supplementary Video 1

    Detection of vasculogenesis in Real-Time: hVPr-GFP+ cells appear at day 5 and connect to form primitive vascular tubules.

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    Supplementary Video 2

    Real-Time Tracking of hESC-derived ECs: Remodeling of hVPr-GFP+ vessel-like structures in adhering EBs

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    Supplementary Video 3

    Establishment of vascular patterning: Human VPr-GFP+ cells form branching microvascular structures with closed lumens.

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    Supplementary Video 4

    Tubulogenesis of human neo-vessels in vitro: Human VPr-GFP+ cells reorganize into large vessel-like structures following extendeddifferentiation in vitro.

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    Supplementary Video 5

    Whole-well immunodetection of non-endothelial cell types that emerge from hESC-derived ECs in the absence of TGF inhibition.

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    Supplementary Video 6

    Whole-well immunodetection of mitotic hESC-derived ECs in the absence of TGF inhibition.

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    Supplementary Video 7

    Whole-well immunodetection of mitotic hESC-derived ECs in the presence of TGF inhibition.

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    Supplementary Video 8

    Human ESC-derived ECs cultured in the presence of TGF inhibitor form functional vessels in vivo.

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    Supplementary Video 9

    Human ESC-derived ECs cultured in the presence of TGF inhibitor form functional vessels in vivo.

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