Endoglin (ENG), an ancillary receptor for several members of the transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta superfamily, has a well-studied role in endothelial function. Here, we report that endoglin also plays an important role early in development at the level of the hemangioblast, an embryonic progenitor of the hematopoietic and endothelial lineages. Eng-/-, Engl+/- and Eng+/+ mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells were differentiated as embryoid bodies (EBs) and assayed for blast colony-forming cells (BL-CFCs). Our results showed a profound reduction in hemangioblast frequency in the absence of endoglin. Furthermore, cell-sorting experiments revealed that endoglin marks the hemangioblast on day 3 of EB differentiation. When analyzed for hematopoietic and endothelial activity, replated Eng-/- BL-CFCs presented limited hematopoietic potential, whereas endothelial differentiation was unaltered. Analysis of hematopoietic colony formation of EBs, at different time points, further supports a function for endoglin in early hematopoiesis. Taken together, these findings point to a role for endoglin in both hemangioblast specification and hematopoietic commitment.
- ES cells
- Primitive erythropoiesis