2018 NHRI Research Day Awards for Outstanding Papers
Research topic: Absence of heme oxygenase-1 accelerates smooth muscle cell differentiation during embryoid body development from mouse embryonic stem cells
Postdoctoral Fellow Wei-Cheng Jiang from Dr. Shaw-Fang Yet’s lab received 2018 NHRI Research Day Oral Outstanding Paper Award. Heme oxygenase (HO)-1 possesses crucial cytoprotective ability against physiological stress, the functions of HO-1 in embryonic stem cell (ESC) differentiation remain to be elucidated. We previously showed that in the absence of HO-1, induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells are more prone to lose pluripotent markers. To investigate the role of HO-1 in ESC differentiation and to eliminate the controversy of potential gene defects in iPS cells, we set up mouse HO-1 knockout ESC lines from HO-1 knockout blastocysts. Using 3-dimensional embryoid body (EB) formation model, we showed that at an early time point after EB differentiation, loss of HO-1 led to enhanced ROS level, accompanied with upregulations of master mesodermal regulator brachyury. Furthermore, critical smooth muscle cell (SMC) transcription factor serum response factor and its coactivator myocardin were increased. Moreover, HO-1 deficiency augmented Smad2 expression in ESCs and EBs, indicating that Smad2 not merely mediates mesendoderm differentiation of mouse ESCs but also SMC development. Our findings may provide a novel approach to promote SMC differentiation from ESCs. The study was published in the journal Redox Biology in May 2018.