Background: Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells are a novel stem cell population induced from mouse and human adult somatic cells through reprogramming by transduction of defined transcription factors. However, detailed differentiation properties and the directional differentiation system of iPS cells have not been demonstrated.
Methods and results: Previously, we established a novel mouse embryonic stem (ES) cell differentiation system that can reproduce the early differentiation processes of cardiovascular cells. We applied our ES cell system to iPS cells and examined directional differentiation of mouse iPS cells to cardiovascular cells. Flk1 (also designated as vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2)-expressing mesoderm cells were induced from iPS cells after approximately 4-day culture for differentiation. Purified Flk1(+) cells gave rise to endothelial cells and mural cells by addition of vascular endothelial growth factor and serum. Arterial, venous, and lymphatic endothelial cells were also successfully induced. Self-beating cardiomyocytes could be induced from Flk1(+) cells by culture on OP9 stroma cells. Time course and efficiency of the differentiation were comparable to those of mouse ES cells. Occasionally, reexpression of transgene mRNAs, including c-myc, was observed in long-term differentiation cultures.
Conclusions: Various cardiovascular cells can be systematically induced from iPS cells. The differentiation properties of iPS cells are almost completely identical to those of ES cells. This system would greatly contribute to a novel understanding of iPS cell biology and the development of novel cardiovascular regenerative medicine.