Identification of differentially expressed genes in angioblasts derived from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) is of great interest for elucidating the molecular mechanisms underlying human vasculogenesis. The aim of this study was to define hESC-derived angioblasts at the clonal level and to perform comparative transcriptional analysis to characterize their distinct gene expression profiles. In a clonal analysis performed in cell-specific differentiation media, hESC-derived CD34(+)CD31(+) cells were identified as angioblasts in that they exhibited a significantly higher ability to form endothelial cell (EC) and smooth muscle cell (SMC) colonies than CD34(+)CD31(-) and CD34(-) cell populations did. Microarray analysis showed that many genes involved in vascular development and signaling transduction were overexpressed in hESC-derived CD34(+)CD31(+) cells, whereas those related to mitosis, the DNA damage response, and translation were substantially downregulated. In addition, comparative gene expression profiling of hESC-derived CD34(+)CD31(+) cells and human somatic primary vascular cells demonstrated that hESC-derived CD34(+)CD31(+) cells expressed key genes involved in the EC and SMC differentiation processes, which supports the result that hESC-derived CD34(+)CD31(+) cells are bipotent angioblasts. Our results may provide insights into the identity and function of hESC-derived angioblasts and may also facilitate further investigation of the molecular mechanisms regulating human embryonic vasculogenesis.
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