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Blood. 2004 Apr 15;103(8):2956-64. Epub 2003 Dec 30.

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

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  • 1Laboratory of Molecular Tumor Biology, Division of Cellular and Gene Therapies, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


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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