Differentiation of human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) into hepatocytes has important clinical significance in providing a new stem cell source for cell therapy of terminal liver disease. The differential gene expression analysis of hiPSCs, induced hepatocyte-like cells (HLCs), and primary human hepatocytes (PHHs) provides valuable information for optimization of an induction scheme and exploration of differentiation mechanisms.
Human hair follicle-derived iPSCs (hHF-iPSCs) were induced in vitro by mimicking the environment of a developing liver for 19 days. Expression of specific proteins was determined by immunofluorescence staining; the function of HLCs in storage and metabolism was identified by detecting periodic acid-Schiff, indocyanine green, and low-density lipoprotein. Based on the transcriptomics data, the differential gene expression profiles of hHF-iPSCs, HLCs, and PHHs were analyzed by Gene Ontology, Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes pathway, FunRich, and network analysis methods.
HLCs were able to express albumin (ALB), alpha-fetoprotein, CYP3A4, and CYP7A1, and exhibited matured liver cell functions such as glycogen synthesis and storage. Complement and coagulation cascades and metabolic pathways ranked top in the downregulated list of HLCs/PHHs, while the cell cycle ranked top in the upregulated list of HLCs/PHHs. In the protein-protein interaction network, according to the degree rankings, TOP2A, CDK1, etc. were the important upregulated differentially expressed genes (DEGs), while ALB, ACACB, etc. were the major downregulated DEGs in HLCs/PHHs; the module analysis indicated that CDCA8, AURKB, and AURKA were the top upregulated DEGs in HLCs/PHHs.
We presented the differences in gene expression among hHF-iPSCs, HLCs, and PHHs through transcriptome array data and provided new ideas for the optimization of induction.