Hahner F. et al.
RATIONALE: Nox4 is a constitutively active NADPH oxidase that constantly produces low levels of HO. Thereby, Nox4 contributes to cell homeostasis and long-term processes, such as differentiation. The high expression of Nox4 seen in endothelial cells contrasts with the low abundance of Nox4 in stem cells, which are accordingly characterized by low levels of HO. We hypothesize that Nox4 is a major contributor to endothelial differentiation, is induced during the process of differentiation, and facilitates homeostasis of the resulting endothelial cells. OBJECTIVE: To determine the role of No×4 in differentiation of murine inducible pluripotent stem cells (miPSC) into endothelial cells (ECs). METHODS AND RESULTS: miPSC, generated from mouse embryonic wildtype (WT) and Nox4 fibroblasts, were differentiated into endothelial cells (miPSC-EC) by stimulation with BMP4 and VEGF. During this process, Nox4 expression increased and knockout of Nox4 prolonged the abundance of pluripotency markers, while expression of endothelial markers was delayed in differentiating Nox4-depleted iPSCs. Eventually, angiogenic capacity of iPSC-ECs is reduced in Nox4 deficient cells, indicating that an absence of Nox4 diminishes stability of the reached phenotype. As an underlying mechanism, we identified JmjD3 as a redox target of Nox4. iPSC-ECs lacking Nox4 display a lower nuclear abundance of the histone demethylase JmjD3, resulting in an increased triple methylation of histone 3 (H3K27me3), which serves as a repressive mark for several genes involved in differentiation. CONCLUSIONS: Nox4 promotes differentiation of miPSCs into ECs by oxidation of JmjD3 and subsequent demethylation of H3K27me3, which forced endothelial differentiation and stability.