Student project

Expansion of a VE-Cadherin+CD45+ population in the yolk sac upon Etv2 overexpression in the mouse embryo - Effects of BMP and Wnt signaling inhibition on the differentiation of a Flk1+ extraembryonic mesoderm in vitro model

The difficulty to find compatible donors for bone marrow transplantation makes the need for an alternative source of HSCs urgent. HSC derived from patient-specific iPS cells are ideal candidates for this purpose. Nevertheless, although HSCs are the best characterized adult stem cells, the in vitro generation and expansion of bone fide HSCs still has not been achieved without transgene insertion. Successful derivation of HSCs from ES cells or iPS cells will require a comprehensive understanding of inductive signals and downstream effectors involved in the normal arising of HSCs during embryonic development. BMP and Wnt signaling pathways play a very important role in this differentiation process. Here, we report how BMP and Wnt signaling inhibition cooperatively alter the differentiation of Flk1+PDGFRα- cells after reculture in serum-free, feeder layer-free conditions. This data will be useful in determining the factors that have to be added to a chemically defined culture medium aimed at derivation of bone fide HSC in vitro. In the second part of this master’s project, we studied the spatial and temporal localization requirements of Etv2 expression, a key regulator of the earliest events in the development of the hematopoietic and vascular systems. To gain more insight on this matter, we conditionally knocked-in Etv2 in the early endothelial compartment, using a Tie2Cre system. This leaded to an embryonically lethal phenotype by E11.5, and most interestingly, to the expansion of a VE-Cadherin+CD45+ population in the E10.5 yolk sac. We believe that these cells represent a increased pool of immature pre-definitive hematopoietic stem cells, thus underlining further the importance of Etv2 in the differentiation process towards hematopoietic, and endothelial lineages in the mouse embryo.

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