Petrus-Reurer S, Lederer AR, Baqué-Vidal L, Douagi I, Pannagel B, Khven I, Aronsson M, Bartuma H, Wagner M, Wrona A, Efstathopoulos P, Jaberi E, Willenbrock H, Shimizu Y, Villaescusa JC, André H, Sundstrӧm E, Bhaduri A, Kriegstein A, Kvanta A, La Manno G, Lanner F
Stem Cell Reports 17 (6) 1458-1475 [2022-06-14; online 2022-06-16]
Human embryonic stem cell-derived retinal pigment epithelial cells (hESC-RPE) are a promising cell source to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Despite several ongoing clinical studies, a detailed mapping of transient cellular states during in vitro differentiation has not been performed. Here, we conduct single-cell transcriptomic profiling of an hESC-RPE differentiation protocol that has been developed for clinical use. Differentiation progressed through a culture diversification recapitulating early embryonic development, whereby cells rapidly acquired a rostral embryo patterning signature before converging toward the RPE lineage. At intermediate steps, we identified and examined the potency of an NCAM1+ retinal progenitor population and showed the ability of the protocol to suppress non-RPE fates. We demonstrated that the method produces a pure RPE pool capable of maturing further after subretinal transplantation in a large-eyed animal model. Our evaluation of hESC-RPE differentiation supports the development of safe and efficient pluripotent stem cell-based therapies for AMD.