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Generation of functional conjunctival epithelium, including goblet cells, from human iPSCs

Nomi, K;Hayashi, R;Ishikawa, Y;Kobayashi, Y;Katayama, T;Quantock, AJ;Nishida, K;

The conjunctival epithelium, which covers the sclera (the white of the eye) and lines the inside of the eyelids, is essential for mucin secretion and the establishment of a healthy tear film. Here, we describe human conjunctival development in a self-formed ectodermal autonomous multi-zone (SEAM) of cells that were derived from human-induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) and mimic whole-eye development. Our data indicate that epidermal growth factor (EGF) drives the generation of cells with a conjunctival epithelial lineage. We also show that individual conjunctival cells can be sorted and reconstituted by cultivation into a functional conjunctival epithelium that includes mucin-producing goblet cells. Keratinocyte growth factor (KGF), moreover, is necessary for the maturation of hiPSC-derived conjunctival epithelium-particularly the goblet cells-indicating key complementary roles of EGF and KGF in directing the differentiation and maturation, respectively, of the human conjunctival epithelium.