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J Vis Exp. 2012 Jun 21;(64). pii: 3854. doi: 10.3791/3854.

Preparation of mouse embryonic fibroblast cells suitable for culturing human embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells.

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  • 1Department of Vertebrate Genomics, Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics. jagodzin@molgen.mpg.de

Abstract

In general, human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs)(1) can be cultured under variable conditions. However, it is not easy to establish an effective system for culturing these cells. Since the culture conditions can influence gene expression that confers pluripotency in hESCs and hiPSCs, the optimization and standardization of the culture method is crucial. The establishment of hESC lines was first described by using MEFs as feeder cells and fetal bovine serum (FBS)-containing culture medium(2). Next, FBS was replaced with knockout serum replacement (KSR) and FGF2, which enhances proliferation of hESCs(3). Finally, feeder-free culture systems enable culturing cells on Matrigel-coated plates in KSR-containing conditioned medium (medium conditioned by MEFs)(4). Subsequently, hESCs culture conditions have moved towards feeder-free culture in chemically defined conditions(5-7). Moreover, to avoid the potential contamination by pathogens and animal proteins culture methods using xeno-free components have been established(8). To obtain improved conditions mouse feeder cells have been replaced with human cell lines (e.g. fetal muscle and skin cells(9), adult skin cells(10), foreskin fibroblasts(11-12), amniotic mesenchymal cells(13)). However, the efficiency of maintaining undifferentiated hESCs using human foreskin fibroblast-derived feeder layers is not as high as that from mouse feeder cells due to the lower level of secretion of Activin A(14). Obviously, there is an evident difference in growth factor production by mouse and human feeder cells. Analyses of the transcriptomes of mouse and human feeder cells revealed significant differences between supportive and non-supportive cells. Exogenous FGF2 is crucial for maintaining self-renewal of hESCs and hiPSCs, and has been identified as a key factor regulating the expression of Tgfβ1, Activin A and Gremlin (a BMP antagonist) in feeder cells. Activin A has been shown to induce the expression of OCT4, SOX2, and NANOG in hESCs(15-16). For long-term culture, hESCs and hiPSCs can be grown on mitotically inactivated MEFs or under feeder-free conditions in MEF-CM (MEF-Conditioned Medium) on Matrigel-coated plates to maintain their undifferentiated state. Success of both culture conditions fully depends on the quality of the feeder cells, since they directly affect the growth of hESCs. Here, we present an optimized method for the isolation and culture of mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs), preparation of conditioned medium (CM) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to assess the levels of Activin A within the media.

PMID:
22760161
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3471299
Free PMC Article
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