Induced pluripotent stem cell–based mapping of β-globin expression throughout human erythropoietic development
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Robust β-globin expression in erythroid cells derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) increases the resolution with which red blood cell disorders such as sickle cell disease and β thalassemia can be modeled in vitro. To better quantify efforts in augmenting β-globin expression, we report the creation of a β-globin reporter iPSC line that allows for the mapping of β-globin expression throughout human erythropoietic development in real time at single-cell resolution. Coupling this tool with single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNAseq) identified features that distinguish β-globin-expressing cells and allowed for the dissection of the developmental and maturational statuses of iPSC-derived erythroid lineage cells. Coexpression of embryonic, fetal, and adult globins in individual cells indicated that these cells correspond to a yolk sac erythromyeloid progenitor program of hematopoietic development, representing the onset of definitive erythropoiesis. Within this developmental program, scRNAseq analysis identified a gradient of erythroid maturation, with β-globin-expressing cells showing increased maturation. Compared with other cells, β-globin-expressing cells showed a reduction in transcripts coding for ribosomal proteins, increased expression of members of the ubiquitin-proteasome system recently identified to be involved in remodeling of the erythroid proteome, and upregulation of genes involved in the dynamic translational control of red blood cell maturation. These findings emphasize that definitively patterned iPSC-derived erythroblasts resemble their postnatal counterparts in terms of gene expression and essential biological processes, confirming their potential for disease modeling and regenerative medicine applications.
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