Retinoic Acid Promotes Endothelial Cell Cycle Early G1 State to Enable Human Hemogenic Endothelial Cell Specification

Cell Rep. 2020 Dec 1;33(9):108465. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.108465.


Development of blood-forming (hemogenic) endothelial cells that give rise to hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) is critical during embryogenesis to generate the embryonic and postnatal hematopoietic system. We previously demonstrated that the specification of murine hemogenic endothelial cells is promoted by retinoic acid (RA) signaling and requires downstream endothelial cell cycle control. Whether this mechanism is conserved in human hemogenic endothelial cell specification is unknown. Here, we present a protocol to derive primordial endothelial cells from human embryonic stem cells and promote their specification toward hemogenic endothelial cells. Furthermore, we demonstrate that RA treatment significantly increases human hemogenic endothelial cell specification. That is, RA promotes endothelial cell cycle arrest to enable RA-induced instructive signals to upregulate the genes needed for hematopoietic transition. These insights provide guidance for the ex vivo generation of autologous human hemogenic endothelial cells that are needed to produce human HSPCs for regenerative medicine applications.

Keywords: cell cycle regulation; human hemogenic endothelial cell specification; retinoic acid signaling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle / genetics*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Tretinoin / metabolism*


  • Tretinoin