Pluripotent stem cells derived vascular endothelial cells (ECs) have enormous potential to be used in a variety of therapeutic areas such as tissue engineering of vascular grafts and re-vascularization of ischemic tissues. It is also much desired to obtain homogeneous culture of functional arterial or venous ECs for specific applications. To date, various protocols have been developed to differentiate ESCs toward vascular ECs. However, ECs derived from ESCs using current methods display predominantly venous phenotype. Therefore, developing refined method of arterial-venous differentiation is critically needed to address this gap. Based on the findings of vascular development, we hypothesize that embryonic stem cell derived Flk1+Nrp1+ cells serve as arterial EC progenitors. We think that this subset cell population is predisposed to arterial differentiation and can be selected to guide arterial differentiation in combination with environmental cues. My lab is currently developing methods to engineer optimal in vitro environments that guide ESCs into arterial and venous cell fate and compare their functional consequences in tissue engineering applications. In addition, we are studying the role of venous-specific transcription factor COUP-TFII in the controlling of the arterial and venous cell fate as well as determining their functions in the adult vessel and vascular disease process. In this talk, I will illustrate our research effort in the arterial venous differentiation of embryonic stem cells and the transcriptional mechanisms that lead to the distinct functional phenotypes of arteries and veins and their different susceptibility to vascular diseases.
Dr. Dai is currently an Assistant Professor at Department of Biomedical Engineering of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Dr. Dai graduated from Beijing University, China with B.S. in Mechanics and M.S. in Biomechanics. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard-MIT Division of Health Science’s Medical Engineering and Medical Physics program. He then completed Post-doctoral training at Harvard Medical School, and subsequently joined the faculty at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Dr. Dai’s education and research experiences concentrate in the field of cardiovascular biomechanics and vascular biology. Current research in his lab focuses on the 3-D cell printing technology for vascular tissue generation, biomechanical & biochemical regulation of arterial venous differentiation from stem cells at the tissue, cellular and molecular level. Dr. Dai received Partners Research Excellence Award from Harvard Medical School, Scientist Development Award from American Heart Association and National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Award.