Cardiac differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) requires orchestration of dynamic gene regulatory networks during stepwise fate transitions but often generates immature cell types that do not fully recapitulate properties of their adult counterparts, suggesting incomplete activation of key transcriptional networks. We performed extensive single-cell transcriptomic analyses to map fate choices and gene expression programs during cardiac differentiation of hPSCs and identified strategies to improve in vitro cardiomyocyte differentiation. Utilizing genetic gain- and loss-of-function approaches, we found that hypertrophic signaling is not effectively activated during monolayer-based cardiac differentiation, thereby preventing expression of HOPX and its activation of downstream genes that govern late stages of cardiomyocyte maturation. This study therefore provides a key transcriptional roadmap of in vitro cardiac differentiation at single-cell resolution, revealing fundamental mechanisms underlying heart development and differentiation of hPSC-derived cardiomyocytes.
Keywords: CRISPRi; HOPX; cardiomyocytes; development; heart; human pluripotent stem cells; hypertrophy; in silico lineage tracing; scdiff; single-cell RNA-seq.
Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.