Endothelial cells (ECs) form the lining of blood and lymphatic vessels throughout the body. While tissue-specific ECs have long been recognized for a subset of tissues, Dr. Shahin Rafii’s lab at Weill Cornell Medical College has now established a method to isolate purified capillary ECs from a number of tissues. When profiled, these ECs from multiple tissues and organs as diverse as liver, bone marrow, and brain, reveal unique molecular signatures. Further, in several regeneration models, ECs respond by expressing different sets of growth factors and cytokines based on their tissue environment. To test further the effect of microenvironment on ECs, “generic” mouse embryonic stem cell (ESC)-derived ECs, which do not express tissue-specific markers, were engrafted into regenerating livers. Interestingly, engrafted cells were detected in both the liver and kidneys. The engrafted cells also took on signature characteristics of the endogenous ECs, demonstrating tissue-specific education of the transplanted cells by the local environment. This ability of generic ECs to adopt a tissue-specific identity, in combination with the knowledge of how to instruct such specificity in ESC-derived ECs, could have significant impact on tissue regeneration. Research in this paper, published in Developmental Cell, was supported by NYSTEM awards C024180, C026438 and C026878.
Nolan DJ, Ginsberg M, Israely E, Palikuqi B, Poulos MG, James D, Ding BS, Schachterle W, Liu Y, Rosenwaks Z, Butler JM, Xiang J, Rafii A, Shido K, Rabbany SY, Elemento O, Rafii S. Molecular signatures of tissue-specific microvascular endothelial cell heterogeneity in organ maintenance and regeneration. Dev Cell. 2013 Jul 29;26(2):204-19.