, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 230-237
Date: 07 Mar 2013

BMP signaling regulates the differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells into lung epithelial cell lineages

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Somatic stem/progenitor cells are known to be present in most adult tissues. However, those in the lung have limited abilities for tissue regeneration after serious damage as a result of chronic disease. Therefore, regenerative medicine using exogenous stem cells has been suggested for the treatment of progressive lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pulmonary fibrosis. Embryonic stem (ES) cells and induced pluripotent stem cells, with their potent differentiation abilities, are promising sources for the generation of various tissue cells. In this study, we investigated the effects of various differentiation-inducing growth factors on the differentiation of lung cells from ES cells in vitro. Several factors, including activin, nodal, and noggin, significantly promoted the induction of Nkx2.1-positive lung progenitor cells when cells were cultured as embryoid bodies. Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) 4 signaling controls the lineage commitment of lung cells along the proximal–distal axis. BMP4 promotes the induction of distal cell lineages of alveolar bud, such as Clara cells and mucus-producing goblet cells. These results suggest that several developmentally essential factors, including nodal/activin and BMP signaling, are important in the control of the differentiation of lung epithelial cells from mouse ES cells in vitro.

Editor: T. Okamoto