The ability to induce somatic cells to pluripotency by ectopic expression of defined transcription factors (e.g. KLF-4, OCT4, SOX2, c-MYC, or KOSM) has transformed the future of regenerative medicine. Here we report somatic cell reprogramming of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs), yielding induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells with the fastest kinetics, and one of the highest reprogramming efficiencies for a human somatic cell to date. HUVEC-derived iPS (Huv-iPS) cell colonies appeared as early as 6 days after a single KOSM infection, and were generated with a 2.5-3% reprogramming efficiency. Furthermore, when HUVEC reprogramming was performed under hypoxic conditions in the presence of a TGF-beta family signaling inhibitor, colony formation increased an additional ~2.5-fold over standard conditions. Huv-iPS cells were indistinguishable from human embryonic stem (ES) cells with regards to morphology, pluripotent marker expression, and their ability to generate all embryonic germ layers in vitro and in vivo. The high efficiency and rapid kinetics of Huv-iPS cell formation, coupled with the ease by which HUVECs can be collected, expanded and stored, make these cells an attractive somatic source for therapeutic application, and for studying the reprogramming process.
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