Modeling primitive and definitive erythropoiesis with induced pluripotent stem cells Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Abstract During development, erythroid cells are produced through at least 2 distinct hematopoietic waves (primitive and definitive), generating erythroblasts with different functional characteristics. Human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) can be used as a model platform to study the development of red blood cells (RBCs) with many of the differentiation protocols after the primitive wave of hematopoiesis. Recent advances have established that definitive hematopoietic progenitors can be generated from iPSCs, creating a unique situation for comparing primitive and definitive erythrocytes derived from cell sources of identical genetic background. We generated iPSCs from healthy fetal liver (FL) cells and produced isogenic primitive or definitive RBCs which were compared directly to the FL-derived RBCs. Functional assays confirmed differences between the 2 programs, with primitive RBCs showing a reduced proliferation potential, larger cell size, lack of Duffy RBC antigen expression, and higher expression of embryonic globins. Transcriptome profiling by scRNA-seq demonstrated high similarity between FL- and iPSC-derived definitive RBCs along with very different gene expression and regulatory network patterns for primitive RBCs. In addition, iPSC lines harboring a known pathogenic mutation in the erythroid master regulator KLF1 demonstrated phenotypic changes specific to definitive RBCs. Our studies provide new insights into differences between primitive and definitive erythropoiesis and highlight the importance of ontology when using iPSCs to model genetic hematologic diseases. Beyond disease modeling, the similarity between FL- and iPSC-derived definitive RBCs expands potential applications of definitive RBCs for diagnostic and transfusion products.


  • Sussman, Jonathan
  • Pavani, Giulia
  • Klein, Joshua G
  • Nations, Catriana C
  • Sussman, Jonathan H
  • Tan, Kai
  • An, Hyun Hyung
  • Abdulmalik, Osheiza
  • Thom, Christopher S
  • Gearhart, Peter A
  • Willett, Camryn M
  • Maguire, Jean Ann
  • Chou, Stella T
  • French, Deborah L
  • Gadue, Paul

publication date

  • March 26, 2024