Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) exist in heterogeneous micro-environments with multiple subpopulations, convoluting fate-regulation analysis. We patterned hPSCs into engineered micro-environments and screened responses to 400 small-molecule kinase inhibitors, measuring yield and purity outputs of undifferentiated, neuroectoderm, mesendoderm, and extra-embryonic populations. Enrichment analysis revealed mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibition as a strong inducer of mesendoderm. Dose responses of mTOR inhibitors such as rapamycin synergized with Bone Morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP4) and activin A to enhance the yield and purity of BRACHYURY-expressing cells. Mechanistically, small interfering RNA knockdown of RAPTOR, a component of mTOR complex 1, phenocopied the mesendoderm-enhancing effects of rapamycin. Functional analysis during mesoderm and endoderm differentiation revealed that mTOR inhibition increased the output of hemogenic endothelial cells 3-fold, with a concomitant enhancement of blood colony-forming cells. These data demonstrate the power of our multi-lineage screening approach and identify mTOR signaling as a node in hPSC differentiation to mesendoderm and its derivatives.
Copyright © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.