Single-cell transcriptional analysis of human endothelial colony-forming cells from patients with low VWF levels

Christopher J. Ng, Alice Liu, Sujatha Venkataraman, Katrina J. Ashworth, Christopher D. Baker, Rebecca O'Rourke, Rajeev Vibhakar, Kenneth L. Jones, Jorge Di Paola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


von Willebrand factor (VWF) plays a key role in normal hemostasis, and deficiencies of VWF lead to clinically significant bleeding. We sought to identify novel modifiers of VWF levels in endothelial colony-forming cells (ECFCs) using single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq). ECFCs were isolated from patients with low VWF levels (plasma VWF antigen levels between 30 and 50 IU/dL) and from healthy controls. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells were used as an additional control cell line. Cells were characterized for their Weibel Palade body (WPB) content and VWF release. scRNA-seq of all cell lines was performed to evaluate for gene expression heterogeneity and for candidate modifiers of VWF regulation. Candidate modifiers identified by scRNA-seq were further characterized with small-interfering RNA (siRNA) experiments to evaluate for effects on VWF. We observed that ECFCs derived from patients with low VWF demonstrated alterations in baseline WPB metrics and exhibit impaired VWF release. scRNA-seq analyses of these endothelial cells revealed overall decreased VWF transcription, mosaicism of VWF expression, and genes that are differentially expressed in low VWF ECFCs and control endothelial cells (control ECs). An siRNA screen of potential VWF modifiers provided further evidence of regulatory candidates, and 1 such candidate, FLI1, alters the transcriptional activity of VWF. In conclusion, ECFCs from individuals with low VWF demonstrate alterations in their baseline VWF packaging and release compared with control ECs. scRNA-seq revealed alterations in VWF transcription, and siRNA screening identified multiple candidate regulators of VWF.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2240-2251
Number of pages12
Issue number14
StatePublished - Apr 7 2022


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