We show that a human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC) population cultured on a low-adhesion substrate developed two hPSC subtypes with different colony morphologies: flat and domed. Notably, the dome-like cells showed higher active proliferation capacity and increased several pluripotent genes' expression compared with the flat monolayer cells. We further demonstrated that cell-matrix adhesion mediates the interaction between cell morphology and expression of KLF4 and KLF5 through a serum response factor (SRF)-based regulatory double loop. Our results provide a mechanistic view on the coupling among adhesion, stem cell morphology, and pluripotency, shedding light on the critical role of cell-matrix adhesion in the induction and maintenance of hPSC.
Keywords: cell-matrix adhesion; heterogeneity; human pluripotent stem cells; mathematical model; nanofiber; serum response factor; single-cell culture; stem cell morphology.
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