Isolation of a primate embryonic stem cell line.


J A Thomson, J Kalishman, T G Golos, M Durning, C P Harris, R A Becker, J P Hearn




Embryonic stem cells have the ability to remain undifferentiated and proliferate indefinitely in vitro while maintaining the potential to differentiate into derivatives of all three embryonic germ layers. Here we report the derivation of a cloned cell line (R278.5) from a rhesus monkey blastocyst that remains undifferentiated in continuous passage for > 1 year, maintains a normal XY karyotype, and expresses the cell surface markers (alkaline phosphatase, stage-specific embryonic antigen 3, stage-specific embryonic antigen 4, TRA-1-60, and TRA-1-81) that are characteristic of human embryonal carcinoma cells. R278.5 cells remain undifferentiated when grown on mouse embryonic fibroblast feeder layers but differentiate or die in the absence of fibroblasts, despite the presence of recombinant human leukemia inhibitory factor. R278.5 cells allowed to differentiate in vitro secrete bioactive chorionic gonadotropin into the medium, express chorionic gonadotropin alpha- and beta-subunit mRNAs, and express alpha-fetoprotein mRNA, indicating trophoblast and endoderm differentiation. When injected into severe combined immunodeficient mice, R278.5 cells consistently differentiate into derivatives of all three embryonic germ layers. These results define R278.5 cells as an embryonic stem cell line, to our knowledge, the first to be derived from any primate species.

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