Global expression profile of highly enriched cardiomyocytes derived from human embryonic stem cells

Xiu Qin Xu, Set Yen Soo, William Sun, Robert Zweigerdt
Stem Cells 2009, 27 (9): 2163-74
Human embryonic stem cells (hESC), with their ability to differentiate into cardiomyocytes in culture, hold great potential for cell replacement therapies and provide an in vitro model of human heart development. A genomewide characterization of the molecular phenotype of hESC-derived cardiomyocytes is important for their envisioned applications. We have employed a lineage selection strategy to generate a pure population of cardiomyocytes (>99%) from transgenic hESC lines. Global gene expression profiling showed that these cardiomyocytes are distinct from pluripotent and differentiated hESC cultures. Pure cardiomyocytes displayed similarities with heart tissue, but in many aspects presented an individual transcriptome pattern. A subset of 1,311 cardiac-enriched transcripts was identified, which were significantly overpresented (p < .01) in the Gene Ontology (GO) categories of heart function and heart development. Focused analysis of the GO categories ion transport, sarcomere, and heart development uncovered a unique molecular signature of hESC cardiomyocytes. Pathway analysis revealed an extensive cardiac transcription factor network and novel peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor signaling components within the cardiac-enriched genes. Notably, approximately 80% of these genes were previously uncharacterized. We have evaluated the biological relevance of four candidates-Rbm24, Tcea3, Fhod3, and C15orf52-by in situ hybridization during early mouse development and report that all were prominently expressed in cardiac structures. Our results provide the fundamental basis for a comprehensive understanding of gene expression patterns of hESC cardiomyocytes and will greatly help define biological processes and signaling pathways involved in hESC cardiomyogenic differentiation and in human heart development.

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