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EMBO J. 1983; 2(12): 2355–2361.
PMCID: PMC555457

Stage-specific embryonic antigens (SSEA-3 and -4) are epitopes of a unique globo-series ganglioside isolated from human teratocarcinoma cells.


Two monoclonal antibodies (MC631 and MC813-70) raised against 4- to 8-cell stage mouse embryos and a human teratocarcinoma cell line, respectively, detect the stage-specific embryonic antigens, the previously defined SSEA-3 and SSEA-4, described herein. These antibodies were both reactive with a unique globo-series ganglioside with the structure shown below: (formula; see text) The antibodies were found to recognize sequential regions of this ganglioside, i.e., MC813-70 recognizes the terminal 'a' structure whereas antibody MC631 recognizes the internal 'b' structure. Thus, a set of two antibodies defines this unique embryonic antigen. During differentiation of human teratocarcinoma 2102Ep cells, the globo-series glycolipids defined by these antibodies decrease and the lacto-series glycolipids, reacting with the SSEA-1 antibody appear. This antigenic conversion suggests that a shift of glycolipid synthesis from globo-series to lacto-series glycolipids occurs during differentiation of human teratocarcinoma and perhaps of pre-implantation mouse embryos.

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Selected References

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