Nat Commun 11 (1) 1609 [2020-03-30; online 2020-03-30]
In vitro differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells into functional retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells provides a potentially unlimited source for cell based reparative therapy of age-related macular degeneration. Although the inherent pigmentation of the RPE cells have been useful to grossly evaluate differentiation efficiency and allowed manual isolation of pigmented structures, accurate quantification and automated isolation has been challenging. To address this issue, here we perform a comprehensive antibody screening and identify cell surface markers for RPE cells. We show that these markers can be used to isolate RPE cells during in vitro differentiation and to track, quantify and improve differentiation efficiency. Finally, these surface markers aided to develop a robust, direct and scalable monolayer differentiation protocol on human recombinant laminin-111 and -521 without the need for manual isolation.