Joseph Wu, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
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Background: Endothelial cells (ECs) display considerable functional heterogeneity depending on the vessel and tissue in which they are located. While these functional differences are presumably imprinted in the transcriptome, the pathways and networks which sustain EC heterogeneity have not been fully delineated. Methods: To investigate the transcriptomic basis of EC specificity, we analyzed single-cell RNA-sequencing (scRNA-seq) data from tissue-specific mouse ECs generated by the Tabula Muris consortium. We employed a number of bioinformatics tools to uncover markers and sources of EC heterogeneity from scRNA-seq data. Results: We found a strong correlation between tissue-specific EC transcriptomic measurements generated by either scRNA-seq or bulk RNA-seq, thus validating the approach. Using a graph-based clustering algorithm, we found that certain tissue-specific ECs cluster strongly by tissue (e.g. liver, brain) whereas others (i.e. adipose, heart) have considerable transcriptomic overlap with ECs from other tissues. We identified novel markers of tissue-specific ECs and signaling pathways that may be involved in maintaining their identity. Sex was a considerable source of heterogeneity in the endothelial transcriptome and we discovered Lars2 to be a gene that is highly enriched in ECs from male mice. In addition, we found that markers of heart and lung ECs in mice were conserved in human fetal heart and lung ECs. Finally, we identified potential angiocrine interactions between tissue-specific ECs and other cell types by analyzing ligand and receptor expression patterns. Conclusions: In summary, we use scRNA-seq data generated by the Tabula Muris consortium to uncover transcriptional networks that maintain tissue-specific EC identity and to identify novel angiocrine and functional relationships between tissue-specific ECs.
View details for DOI 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.119.041433
View details for PubMedID 32929989
Hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) is a complex congenital heart disease characterized by abnormalities in the left ventricle, associated valves, and ascending aorta. Studies have shown intrinsic myocardial defects but do not sufficiently explain developmental defects in the endocardial-derived cardiac valve, septum, and vasculature. Here, we identify a developmentally impaired endocardial population in HLHS through single-cell RNA profiling of hiPSC-derived endocardium and human fetal heart tissue with an underdeveloped left ventricle. Intrinsic endocardial defects contribute to abnormal endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition, NOTCH signaling, and extracellular matrix organization, key factors in valve formation. Endocardial abnormalities cause reduced cardiomyocyte proliferation and maturation by disrupting fibronectin-integrin signaling, consistent with recently described de novo HLHS mutations associated with abnormal endocardial gene and fibronectin regulation. Together, these results reveal a critical role for endocardium in HLHS etiology and provide a rationale for considering endocardial function in regenerative strategies.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.stem.2020.07.015
View details for PubMedID 32810435
Myocardial fibrosis is a hallmark of cardiac remodeling, which can progressively lead to heart failure, a leading cause of death worldwide. The effector cells of fibrosis in the heart are cardiac fibroblasts (CFs). There is currently no effective therapeutic strategy clinically available to specifically attenuate maladaptive responses of CFs. Large-scale applications such as high-throughput drug screening are difficult due to the limited availability of human primary CFs, thus limiting the development of future treatments. Here, we describe a robust induction protocol that can be used to generate a scalable, consistent, genetically defined source of quiescent CFs from human induced pluripotent stem cells for cardiac fibrosis modeling, drug discovery, and tissue engineering.
View details for DOI 10.1007/7651_2020_300
View details for PubMedID 32671814
View details for Web of Science ID 000511467800391
RATIONALE: Activated fibroblasts are the major cell type that secrete excessive extracellular matrix in response to injury, contributing to pathological fibrosis and leading to organ failure. Effective anti-fibrotic therapeutic solutions, however, are not available due to the poorly defined characteristics and unavailability of tissue-specific fibroblasts. Recent advances in single-cell RNA-sequencing (scRNA-seq) fill such gaps of knowledge by enabling delineation of the developmental trajectories and identification of regulatory pathways of tissue-specific fibroblasts among different organs.OBJECTIVE: This study aims to define the transcriptome profiles of tissue-specific fibroblasts using recently reported mouse scRNA-seq atlas, and to develop a robust chemically defined protocol to derive cardiac fibroblasts (CFs) from human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) for in vitro modeling of cardiac fibrosis and drug screening.METHODS AND RESULTS: By analyzing the single-cell transcriptome profiles of fibroblasts from 10 selected mouse tissues, we identified distinct tissue-specific signature genes, including transcription factors that define the identities of fibroblasts in the heart, lungs, trachea, and bladder. We also determined that CFs in large are of the epicardial lineage. We thus developed a robust chemically-defined protocol that generates CFs from human iPSCs. Functional studies confirmed that iPSC-derived CFs preserved a quiescent phenotype and highly resembled primary CFs at the transcriptional, cellular, and functional levels. We demonstrated that this cell-based platform is sensitive to both pro- and anti-fibrosis drugs. Finally, we showed that crosstalk between cardiomyocytes and CFs via the atrial/brain natriuretic peptide-natriuretic peptide receptor 1 pathway is implicated in suppressing fibrogenesis.CONCLUSIONS: This study uncovers unique gene signatures that define tissue-specific identities of fibroblasts. The bona fide quiescent CFs derived from human iPSCs can serve as a faithful in vitro platform to better understand the underlying mechanisms of cardiac fibrosis and to screen anti-fibrotic drugs.
View details for DOI 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.119.315491
View details for PubMedID 31288631
Diastolic dysfunction (DD) is common among hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) patients, causing major morbidity and mortality. However, its cellular mechanisms are not fully understood, and presently there is no effective treatment. Patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (iPSC-CMs) hold great potential for investigating the mechanisms underlying DD in HCM and as a platform for drug discovery.In the present study, beating iPSC-CMs were generated from healthy controls and HCM patients with DD. Micropatterned iPSC-CMs from HCM patients showed impaired diastolic function, as evidenced by prolonged relaxation time, decreased relaxation rate, and shortened diastolic sarcomere length. Ratiometric Ca2+ imaging indicated elevated diastolic [Ca2+]i and abnormal Ca2+ handling in HCM iPSC-CMs, which were exacerbated by ?-adrenergic challenge. Combining Ca2+ imaging and traction force microscopy, we observed enhanced myofilament Ca2+ sensitivity (measured as dF/?[Ca2+]i) in HCM iPSC-CMs. These results were confirmed with genome-edited isogenic iPSC lines that carry HCM mutations, indicating that cytosolic diastolic Ca2+ overload, slowed [Ca2+]i recycling, and increased myofilament Ca2+ sensitivity, collectively impairing the relaxation of HCM iPSC-CMs. Treatment with partial blockade of Ca2+ or late Na+ current reset diastolic Ca2+ homeostasis, restored diastolic function, and improved long-term survival, suggesting that disturbed Ca2+ signalling is an important cellular pathological mechanism of DD. Further investigation showed increased expression of L-type Ca2+channel (LTCC) and transient receptor potential cation channels (TRPC) in HCM iPSC-CMs compared with control iPSC-CMs, which likely contributed to diastolic [Ca2+]i overload.In summary, this study recapitulated DD in HCM at the single-cell level, and revealed novel cellular mechanisms and potential therapeutic targets of DD using iPSC-CMs.
View details for DOI 10.1093/eurheartj/ehz326
View details for PubMedID 31219556