Stem cells, including embryonic stem cells (ESC) and induced pluripotent stem cells, have been explored as tools for studying development, as well as, potential sources for a large number of therapies in regenerative medicine. Traditionally, ESC are cultured on TC-plastic, however; it has been recently shown that the stiffness of the environmental substrate can direct the cells towards various cell lineages. Our laboratory is interested in examining signaling in vascular cell fate under chemically-defined conditions. Using our in-house-derived mouse ESC expressing green fluorescence protein under the Tie-2 promoter indicating endothelial fate and red fluorescence protein under α-smooth muscle actin for identifying smooth muscle fate, we examined the role of stiffness in the diverging endothelial cell (EC) and smooth muscle cell (SMC) fates from a common Flk-1+ vascular progenitor cells (VPC). Here, we were able to culture mouse ESC VPC on single stiffness polyacrylamide hydrogels, with EC and SMC emerging in a spatially distinct arrangement.
Lian is a PhD student in Biological Engineering and Small-scale Technologies at University of California Merced
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