Direct generation of immortalized erythroid progenitor cell lines from peripheral blood mononuclear cells

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Reliable human erythroid progenitor cell (EPC) lines that can differentiate to the later stages of erythropoiesis are important cellular models for studying molecular mechanisms of human erythropoiesis in normal and pathological conditions. Two immortalized erythroid progenitor cells (iEPCs), HUDEP‐2 and BEL‐A, generated from CD34+ hematopoietic progenitors by the doxycycline (dox) inducible expression of human papillomavirus E6 and E7 (HEE) genes, are cur-rently being used extensively to study transcriptional regulation of human erythropoiesis and iden-tify novel therapeutic targets for red cell diseases. However, the generation of iEPCs from the patients with red cell diseases is challenging as obtaining a sufficient number of CD34+ cells require bone marrow aspiration or their mobilization to peripheral blood using drugs. This study estab-lished a protocol for culturing early‐stage EPCs from peripheral blood (PB) and their immortaliza-tion by expressing HEE genes. We generated two iEPCs, PBiEPC‐1 and PBiEPC‐2, from the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMNCs) of two healthy donors. These cell lines showed stable dou-bling times with the properties of erythroid progenitors. PBiEPC‐1 showed robust terminal differentiation with high enucleation efficiency, and it could be successfully gene manipulated by gene knockdown and knockout strategies with high efficiencies, without affecting its differentiation. This protocol is suitable for generating a bank of iEPCs from patients with rare red cell genetic disorders for studying disease mechanisms and drug discovery.

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