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Stem Cells Dev. 2013 Nov 15;22(22):2944-53. doi: 10.1089/scd.2013.0243. Epub 2013 Aug 2.

Non-neuronal release of gamma-aminobutyric Acid by embryonic pluripotent stem cells.

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  • 11 Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine , Shanghai, China .


γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), the principle inhibitory transmitter in the mature central nervous system, is also involved in activities outside the nervous system. Recent studies have shown that functional GABA receptors are expressed in embryonic stem (ES) cells and these receptors control ES cell proliferation. However, it is not clear whether ES cells have their own GABAergic transmission output machinery that can fulfill GABA release or whether the cells merely process the GABA receptors by receiving and responding to the diffused GABA released elsewhere. To get further insight into this unresolved problem, we detected the repertoire of components for GABA synthesis, storage, reaction, and termination in ES and embryonal carcinoma stem cells by biological assays, and then directly quantified released GABA in the intercellular milieu from these pluripotent stem (PS) cells by an analytical chemical assay based on high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-ESI-MS/MS). We found that embryonic PS cells processed a GABAergic circuit machinery and spontaneously released GABA, which suggests the potential that embryonic PS cells could autonomously establish a GABA niche via release of the transmitter.

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[Available on 2014/11/15]
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