Gene expression in human embryonic stem cell lines: unique molecular signature.


Bhaskar Bhattacharya, Takumi Miura, Ralph Brandenberger, Josef Mejido, Yongquan Luo, Amy X Yang, Bharat H Joshi, Irene Ginis, R Scott Thies, Michal Amit, Ian Lyons, Brian G Condie, Joseph Itskovitz-Eldor, Mahendra S Rao, Raj K Puri




Human embryonic stem (huES) cells have the ability to differentiate into a variety of cell lineages and potentially provide a source of differentiated cells for many therapeutic uses. However, little is known about the mechanism of differentiation of huES cells and factors regulating cell development. We have used high-quality microarrays containing 16 659 seventy-base pair oligonucleotides to examine gene expression in 6 of the 11 available huES cell lines. Expression was compared against pooled RNA from multiple tissues (universal RNA) and genes enriched in huES cells were identified. All 6 cell lines expressed multiple markers of the undifferentiated state and shared significant homology in gene expression (overall similarity coefficient > 0.85).A common subset of 92 genes was identified that included Nanog, GTCM-1, connexin 43 (GJA1), oct-4, and TDGF1 (cripto). Gene expression was confirmed by a variety of techniques including comparison with databases, reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, focused cDNA microarrays, and immunocytochemistry. Comparison with published "stemness" genes revealed a limited overlap, suggesting little similarity with other stem cell populations. Several novel ES cell-specific expressed sequence tags were identified and mapped to the human genome. These results represent the first detailed characterization of undifferentiated huES cells and provide a unique set of markers to profile and better understand the biology of huES cells.

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