Stem Cell Reports 2017 09 3;9(3):796-806. Epub 2017 Aug 3.
Department of Pharmacology and the Center for Lung and Vascular Biology, University of Illinois College of Medicine, 835 S. Wolcott, Chicago, IL 60612, USA. Electronic address:
The generation of functional arterial endothelial cells (aECs) from embryonic stem cells (ESCs) holds great promise for vascular tissue engineering. However, the mechanisms underlying their generation and the potential of aECs in revascularizing ischemic tissue are not fully understood. Here, we observed that hypoxia exposure of mouse ESCs induced an initial phase of HIF1α-mediated upregulation of the transcription factor Etv2, which in turn induced the commitment to the EC fate. However, sustained activation of HIF1α in these EC progenitors thereafter induced NOTCH1 signaling that promoted the transition to aEC fate. We observed that transplantation of aECs mediated arteriogenesis in the mouse hindlimb ischemia model. Furthermore, transplantation of aECs in mice showed engraftment in ischemic myocardium and restored cardiac function in contrast to ECs derived under normoxia. Thus, HIF1α activation of Etv2 in ESCs followed by NOTCH1 signaling is required for the generation aECs that are capable of arteriogenesis and revascularization of ischemic tissue.