Inhibition of Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition Maintains Stemness in Human Amniotic Epithelial Cells

Stem Cell Rev Rep. 2022 Aug 6. doi: 10.1007/s12015-022-10420-1. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Human amniotic epithelial cells (hAECs), which are a type of placental stem cell, express stem cell marker genes and are capable of differentiating into all three germ layers under appropriate culture conditions. hAECs are known to undergo TGF-β-dependent epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT); however, the impact of EMT on the stemness or differentiation of hAECs has not yet been determined. Here, we first confirmed that hAECs undergo EMT immediately after starting primary culture. Comprehensive transcriptome analysis using RNA-seq revealed that inhibition of TGF-β-dependent EMT maintained the expression of stemness-related genes, including NANOG and POU5F1, in hAECs. Moreover, the maintenance of stemness did not affect the nontumorigenic characteristics of hAECs. We showed for the first time that TGF-β-dependent EMT negatively affected the stemness of hAECs, providing novel insight into cellular processes of placental stem cells.

Keywords: Comprehensive transcriptome analysis; Epithelial-mesenchymal transition; Human amniotic epithelial cells; Stemness; TGF-β pathway.