Endothelial cells (ECs) in the central nervous system (CNS) acquire their specialized blood-brain barrier (BBB) properties in response to extrinsic signals, with Wnt/β-catenin signaling coordinating multiple aspects of this process. Our knowledge of CNS EC development has been advanced largely by animal models, and human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) offer the opportunity to examine BBB development in an
human system. Here we show that activation of Wnt signaling in hPSC-derived naïve endothelial progenitors, but not in matured ECs, leads to robust acquisition of canonical BBB phenotypes including expression of GLUT-1, increased claudin-5, and decreased PLVAP. RNA-seq revealed a transcriptome profile resembling ECs with CNS-like characteristics, including Wnt-upregulated expression of
. Together, our work defines effects of Wnt activation in naïve ECs and establishes an improved hPSC-based model for interrogation of CNS barriergenesis.