Transcriptional program of bone morphogenetic protein-2-induced epithelial and smooth muscle differentiation of pluripotent human embryonal carcinoma cells
Bone Morphogenetic Proteins
Myocytes, Smooth Muscle
Neoplastic Stem Cells
Pluripotent Stem Cells
Transforming Growth Factor beta
Pluripotent human embryonal carcinoma NTera2/cloneD1 (NT2/D1) cells respond to multiple vertebrate patterning factors and offer a unique model system to investigate the signaling events associated with lineage determination and cell differentiation. Here, we define the temporal changes in global gene expression patterns in NT2/D1 cells upon treatment with bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2). Exposure to BMP-2 rapidly induced the expression of several transcription factors involved in establishing non-neural ectodermal fate followed by the appearance of epithelial-specific markers. Subsequent loss of stem cell markers was coupled to gene expression changes associated with decreased proliferative activity. Temporal clustering of gene expression patterns revealed a concurrent down-regulation of multiple transcripts involved in neurogenesis, neurite outgrowth, and axonal guidance, suggesting that the BMP-mediated differentiation process involves pro-epithelial as well as anti-neurogenic mechanisms. In addition, increased expression of smooth muscle markers both by gene expression and immunohistochemistry was detected. Several neural crest markers were induced preceding such a differentiation, compatible with a neural crest origin of NT2/D1-derived smooth muscle cells. Comparison of changes in transcript expression between BMP-2-induced epithelial versus all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA)-induced neural differentiation revealed potential candidates for regulation of BMP-2 signaling and suppression of neural fate by BMP-2. This study suggests that BMP-2-induced differentiation of NT2/D1 cells provides a powerful assay to study early human epithelial and smooth muscle development.