The purpose of this study was to devise a strategy for the derivation of corneal endothelial cells (CEnCs) from adult fibroblast-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). IPSCs were generated from an adult human with normal ocular history via expression of OCT4, SOX2, KLF4 and c-MYC. Neural crest cells (NCCs) were differentiated from iPSCs via addition of CHIR99021 and SB4315542. NCCs were driven toward a CEnC fate via addition of B27, PDGF-BB and DKK-2 to CEnC media. Differentiation of NCCs and CEnCs was evaluated via rt-PCR, morphological and immunocytochemical analysis. At 17 days post-NCC induction, there were notable changes in cell morphology and upregulation of the neural crest lineage transcripts PAX3, SOX9, TFAP2A, SOX10 and p75NTR and the proteins p75/NGFR and SOX10. Exposure of NCCs to B27, PDGF-BB and DKK-2 induced a shift in morphology from a spindle-shaped neural phenotype to a tightly-packed hexagonal appearance and increased expression of the transcripts ATP1A1, COL8A1, COL8A2, AQP1 and CDH2 and the proteins ZO-1, N-Cad, AQP-1 and Na+/K+ATPase. Replacement of NCC media with CEnC media on day 3, 5 or 8 reduced the differentiation time needed to yield CEnCs. IPSC-derived CEnCs could be used for evaluation of cornea endothelial disease pathophysiology and for testing of novel therapeutics.
Wagoner, M. D., Bohrer, L. R., Aldrich, B. T., Greiner, M. A., Mullins, R. F., Worthington, K. S., … Wiley, L. A. (2018). Feeder-free differentiation of cells exhibiting characteristics of corneal endothelium from human induced pluripotent stem cells. Biology Open, 7(5). https://doi.org/10.1242/bio.032102