Natural killer (NK) cells are one type of innate lymphoid cells, and NK cell-based immunotherapy serves as a potentially curative therapy for cancers. However, the lack of reliable resources for a large amount of NK cells required for clinical infusion has limited the broader application of NK cells in targeted immunotherapy. Substantial effort has thus been made to generate NK-like cells from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs), but detailed molecular mechanisms regulating NK cell differentiation remain elusive, preventing us from developing robust strategies for NK cell production. Here, we genetically engineered hPSCs with inducible overexpression of transcription factors NFIL3, ID2, or SPI1 via CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene knock-in and investigated their temporal roles during NK cell differentiation. Our results demonstrated ID2 overexpression significantly promoted NK cell generation compared with NFIL3 and SPI1 overexpression under a chemically defined, feeder-free culture condition. The resulting ID2 hPSC-derived NK cells exhibited various mature NK-specific markers and displayed effective tumor-killing activities, comparable to NK cells derived from wildtype hPSCs. Our study provides a new platform for efficient NK cell production, serving as a realistic off-The-shelf cell source for targeted cancer immunotherapy.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biomedical Engineering
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)