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Comparative Transcriptomic Analysis of Multiple Cardiovascular Fates from Embryonic Stem Cells Predicts Novel Regulators in Human Cardiogenesis
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    Sci Rep
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    Dissecting the gene expression programs which control the early stage cardiovascular development is essential for understanding the molecular mechanisms of human heart development and heart disease. Here, we performed transcriptome sequencing (RNA-seq) of highly purified human Embryonic Stem Cells (hESCs), hESC-derived Multipotential Cardiovascular Progenitors (MCPs) and MCP-specified three cardiovascular lineages. A novel algorithm, named as Gene Expression Pattern Analyzer (GEPA), was developed to obtain a refined lineage-specificity map of all sequenced genes, which reveals dynamic changes of transcriptional factor networks underlying early human cardiovascular development. Moreover, our GEPA predictions captured ~90% of top-ranked regulatory cardiac genes that were previously predicted based on chromatin signature changes in hESCs, and further defined their cardiovascular lineage-specificities, indicating that our multi-fate comparison analysis could predict novel regulatory genes. Furthermore, GEPA analysis revealed the MCP-specific expressions of genes in ephrin signaling pathway, positive role of which in cardiomyocyte differentiation was further validated experimentally. By using RNA-seq plus GEPA workflow, we also identified stage-specific RNA splicing switch and lineage-enriched long non-coding RNAs during human cardiovascular differentiation. Overall, our study utilized multi-cell-fate transcriptomic comparison analysis to establish a lineage-specific gene expression map for predicting and validating novel regulatory mechanisms underlying early human cardiovascular development.

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