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J Biol Chem. 2013 Apr 5;288(14):10035-50. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.436162. Epub 2013 Feb 12.

Structural complexity of non-acid glycosphingolipids in human embryonic stem cells grown under feeder-free conditions.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, S-41 345 Göteborg, Sweden.


Due to their pluripotency and growth capability, there are great expectations for human embryonic stem cells, both as a resource for functional studies of early human development and as a renewable source of cells for use in regenerative medicine and transplantation. However, to bring human embryonic stem cells into clinical applications, their cell surface antigen expression and its chemical structural complexity have to be defined. In the present study, total non-acid glycosphingolipid fractions were isolated from two human embryonic stem cell lines (SA121 and SA181) originating from leftover in vitro fertilized human embryos, using large amounts of starting material (1 × 10(9) cells/cell line). The total non-acid glycosphingolipid fractions were characterized by antibody and lectin binding, mass spectrometry, and proton NMR. In addition to the globo-series and type 1 core chain glycosphingolipids previously described in human embryonic stem cells, a number of type 2 core chain glycosphingolipids (neo-lactotetraosylceramide, the H type 2 pentaosylceramide, the Le(x) pentaosylceramide, and the Le(y) hexaosylceramide) were identified as well as the blood group A type 1 hexaosylceramide. Finally, the mono-, di-, and triglycosylceramides were characterized as galactosylceramide, glucosylceramide, lactosylceramide, galabiaosylceramide, globotriaosylceramide, and lactotriaosylceramide. Thus, the glycan diversity of human embryonic stem cells, including cell surface immune determinants, is more complex than previously appreciated.

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