Abstract 255: The Kidney and Heart are Hemogenic Organs During Embryonic Life.
During early embryonic life, the heart starts to beat before an effective circulation is established, and the kidney starts to form its vasculature before it connects to the general circulation. We and others have shown a close lineage relationship between endothelial cells (ECs) and hematopoietic cells. In fact, during embryonic development erythroblasts bud from the endothelium of developing vessels, a process we termed hemovasculogenesis. Those studies suggested the possibility that embryonic organs may have hemogenic potential. To test this hypothesis, we performed lineage studies and colony forming unit (CFC) assays to trace the fate of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), erythroid cells, and ECs in heart and kidney from embryonic mice. Using ER-GFPcre mice that express both GFP and cre under control of the erythropoietin receptor locus in the erythroid cells, we identified hematopoietic progenitors (Hb+Nanog+) within nascent vessels in the early embryonic kidney and heart. Using EC-SCL-Cre-ERT transgenic mice that specifically express tamoxifen inducible Cre in EC progenitors, we found both circulating and non-circulating cells from the EC lineage in the early embryonic heart and kidney. CFC assays using HSC-SCL-Cre-ERT; mTmG mice (which express GFP in the cells from the HSC lineage upon tamoxifen induction) showed that both the embryonic kidney and heart possess HSCs. Further, transplantation studies of pre-vascular embryonic kidneys from EC-SCL-Cre-ERT;R26R mice under the kidney capsule of WT adult mice showed blood cells derived from the embryonic kidney suggesting that the embryonic kidney also possesses HSCs that originate in situ. These studies indicate that the embryonic kidney and heart function as hematopoietic organs during early embryogenesis. In addition to solve an important scientific controversy in our understanding of lineage/fate relationships in the developing embryo, these findings are relevant for tissue repair/regeneration and may help explain why under pathological circumstances, hematopoiesis occurs in extramedullary organs.
- © 2012 by American Heart Association, Inc.