Hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) transplantation is the most successful cellular therapy for the malignant hematopoietic diseases such as leukemia, and early recovery of host’s hematopoiesis after HSC transplantation has eagerly been expected to reduce the regimen related toxicity for many years. For the establishment of the safer and more efficient cell source for allogeneic or autologous HSC transplantation, HSCs differentiated from embryonic stem cells (ESCs) or induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) that show indefinite proliferation in an undifferentiated state and pluripotency, are considered to be one of the best candidates. Unfortunately, despite many recent efforts, the HSC-specific differentiation from ESCs and iPSCs remains poor [Kaufman, DS et al., 2001][Ledran MH et al., 2008]. In this study, we developed the new method to differentiate HSC from non-human primate ESC/iPSC. It has been reported that common marmoset (CM), a non-human primate, is a suitable experimental animal for the preclinical studies of HSC therapy [Hibino H et al., 1999]. We have been investigated the hematopoietic differentiation of CM ESCs into HSCs, and previously reported that the induction of CD34+ cells having a blood colony forming capacity from CM ESCs were promoted by lentiviral transduction of TAL1 cDNA [Kurita R et al., 2006]. However, those CD34+ cells did not have a bone marrow reconstituting ability in irradiated NOG (NOD/Shi-scid/IL-2Rγnull) mice, suggesting that transduction of TAL1 gene was not sufficient to induce functional HSCs which have self-renewal capability and multipotency. Thus, we tried to find other hematopoietic genes being able to promote hematopoietic differetiation more efficiently than TAL1.

We selected 6 genes (LYL1, HOXB4, BMI1, GATA2, c-MYB and LMO2) as candidates for factors that induce the differentiation of ESCs into HSCs, based on the previous study of hematopoietic differentiation from human and mouse ESCs. And CM ESCs (Cj11) lentivirally transduced with the respective candidate gene were processed for embryoid body (EB) formation to induce their differentiation into HSCs for 9 days. We found that lentiviral transduction of LYL1 (lymphoblastic leukemia 1), a basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor, in EBs markedly increased the proportion of cells positive for CD34 (approximately 20% of LYL1-transduced cells). RT-PCR showed that LYL1-transduced EBs expressed various hematopoietic genes, such as TAL1, RUNX1 and c-KIT. To examine whether these CD34+ cells have the ability to differentiate into hematopoietic cells in vitro, we performed colony-forming unit (CFU) assay, and found that CD34+ cells in LYL1-transduced EBs could form multi-lineage blood colonies. Furthermore the number of blood colonies originated from CD34+CD45+ cells in LYL1-transduced EBs was almost the same as that from CD34+CD45+ cells derived from CM bone marrow. These results suggested that enforced expression of LYL1 in CM ESCs promoted the emergence of HSCs by EB formation in vitro.

The LYL1 was originally identified as the factor of a chromosomal translocation, resulting in T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia [Mellentin JD et al., 1989]. The Lyl1-deficient mice display the reduction of B cells and impaired long-term hematopoietic reconstitution capacity [Capron C et al., 2006]. And, transduction of Lyl1 in mouse bone marrow cells induced the increase of HSCs and lymphocytes in vitro and in vivo [Lukov GL et al., 2011]. Therefore we hypothesized that LYL1 may play essential roles in bone marrow reconstitution by HSCs differentiated from CM ESCs. To examine this, we transplanted CD34+ cells derived from LYL1-transduced CM ESCs into bone marrow of sublethally irradiated NOG mice, and found that about 7% of CD45+ cells derived from CM ESCs were detected in peripheral blood (PB) of recipient mice at 8 weeks after transplant (n=4). Although CM CD45+ cells disappeared at 12 weeks after transplant, CD34+ cells (about 3%) were still found in bone marrow at the same time point.

Given that TAL1-transduced EBs derived from CM ESCs could not reconstitute bone marrow of irradiated mice at all, LYL1 rather than TAL1 might be a more appropriate transcription factor that can give rise to CD34+ HSCs having the enhanced capability of bone marrow reconstitution from CM ESCs. We are planning to do in vivo study to prove this hypothesis in CM.


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.