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Biotechnol Bioeng. 2003 Sep 30;83(7):760-71.

Clonal expansion of adult rat hepatic stem cell lines by suppression of asymmetric cell kinetics (SACK).

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The Biological Engineering Division, Biotechnology Process Engineering Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Bldg. 16, Room 743b, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


Adult stem cells have potential use for several biomedical applications, including cell replacement therapy, gene therapy, and tissue engineering. However, such applications have been limited due to difficulties encountered in expanding functional adult stem cells. We have developed a new approach to the problem of adult stem cell expansion based on the suppression of asymmetric cell kinetics (SACK). We postulated that asymmetric cell kinetics, required for adult stem cell function, were a major barrier to their expansion in culture. As such, conversion of adult stem cells from asymmetric cell kinetics to symmetric cell kinetics would promote their exponential expansion and longterm propagation in culture. The purine nucleoside xanthosine (Xs), which promotes guanine ribonucleotide biosynthesis, can be used to reversibly convert cells from asymmetric cell kinetics to symmetric cell kinetics. We used Xs supplementation to derive clonal epithelial cell lines from adult rat liver that have properties of adult hepatic stem cells. The properties of two Xs-derived cell lines, Lig-8 and Lig-13, are described in detail and compared to properties of adult rat hepatic cell lines derived without Xs supplementation. The Xs-derived cell lines exhibit Xs-dependent asymmetric cell kinetics and Xs-dependent expression of mature hepatic differentiation markers. Interestingly, Lig-8 cells produce progeny with properties consistent with hepatocyte differentiation, while Lig-13 progeny cells have properties consistent with bile duct epithelium differentiation. A stable adult cholangiocyte stem cell line has not been previously described. Consistent with the principles of their derivation, the SACK-derived hepatic cell lines exhibit neither senescence nor tumorigenic properties, and their differentiation properties are stable after longterm culture. These characteristics of SACK-derived stem cell lines underscore asymmetric cell kinetics as an essential adult stem cell property with potential to be the basis for a general approach to expansion and propagation of diverse adult stem cells.

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