We recently developed fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS)-based methods to purify morphologically and functionally discrete populations of cells, each representing specific stages of terminal erythroid differentiation. We used these techniques to obtain pure populations of both human and murine erythroblasts at distinct developmental stages. RNA was prepared from these cells and subjected to RNA sequencing analyses, creating unbiased, stage-specific transcriptomes. Tight clustering of transcriptomes from differing stages, even between biologically different replicates, validated the utility of the FACS-based assays. Bioinformatic analyses revealed that there were marked differences between differentiation stages, with both shared and dissimilar gene expression profiles defining each stage within transcriptional space. There were vast temporal changes in gene expression across the differentiation stages, with each stage exhibiting unique transcriptomes. Clustering and network analyses revealed that varying stage-specific patterns of expression observed across differentiation were enriched for genes of differing function. Numerous differences were present between human and murine transcriptomes, with significant variation in the global patterns of gene expression. These data provide a significant resource for studies of normal and perturbed erythropoiesis, allowing a deeper understanding of mechanisms of erythroid development in various inherited and acquired erythroid disorders.
© 2014 by The American Society of Hematology.