The production of megakaryocytes (MKs)—the precursors of blood platelets—from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) offers exciting clinical opportunities for transfusion medicine. Here we describe an original approach for the large-scale generation of MKs in chemically defined conditions using a forward programming strategy relying on the concurrent exogenous expression of three transcription factors: GATA1, FLI1 and TAL1. The forward programmed MKs proliferate and differentiate in culture for several months with MK purity over 90% reaching up to 2 × 105 mature MKs per input hPSC. Functional platelets are generated throughout the culture allowing the prospective collection of several transfusion units from as few as 1 million starting hPSCs. The high cell purity and yield achieved by MK forward programming, combined with efficient cryopreservation and good manufacturing practice (GMP)-compatible culture, make this approach eminently suitable to both in vitro production of platelets for transfusion and basic research in MK and platelet biology.
Moreau T et al. Large-scale production of megakaryocytes from human pluripotent stem cells by chemically defined forward programming Nature Communications 2016;7:11208