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Gene Expr. 2005;12(4-6):245-57.

Distinct gene expression profile of human mesenchymal stem cells in comparison to skin fibroblasts employing cDNA microarray analysis of 9600 genes.

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  • 1Department of Hematology, Oncology and Immunology, Philipps-University Marburg, Baldingerstrasse, Marburg, Germany


Broad differentiation capacity has been described for mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) from human bone marrow. We sought to identify genes associated with the immature state and pluripotency of this cell type. To prove the pluripotent state of the MSC, differentiation into osteocytes, adipocytes, and chondrocytes was performed in vitro. In contrast, normal skin cells did not harbor these differentiation abilities. We compared the expression profile of human bone marrow MSC with cDNA from one primary human skin cell line as control, using a cDNA chip providing 9600 genes. The identity of all relevant genes was confirmed by direct sequencing. Data of gene array expression were corroborated employing quantitative PCR analysis. About 80 genes were differently expressed more than threefold in MSC compared to mature skin fibroblasts. Interestingly, primary human MSC were found to upregulate a number of genes important for embryogenesis such as distal-less homeo box 5, Eyes absent homolog 2, inhibitor of DNA binding 3, and LIM protein. In contrast, mesenchymal lineage genes were downregulated in MSC in comparison to skin cells. We also detected expression of some genes involved in neural development, indicating the broad differentiation capabilities of MSC. We conclude that human mesenchymal stem cells harbor an expression profile distinct from mature skin fibroblast, and genes associated with developmental processes and stem cell function are highly expressed in adult mesenchymal stem cells.

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