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J Proteome Res. 2007 Sep;6(9):3796-807. Epub 2007 Jul 27.

Identification of potential pluripotency determinants for human embryonic stem cells following proteomic analysis of human and mouse fibroblast conditioned media.

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School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, 2052, Australia.


The unique pluripotential characteristic of human embryonic stem cells heralds their use in fields such as medicine, biotechnology, biopharmaceuticals, and developmental biology. However, the current availability of sufficient quantities of embryonic stem cells for such applications is limited, and generating sufficient numbers for downstream therapeutic applications is a key concern. In the absence of feeder layers or their conditioned media, human embryonic stem cells readily differentiate to form embryoid bodies, indicating that trophic factors secreted by the feeder layers are required for long-term proliferation and maintenance of pluripotency. Adding further complexity to the elucidation of the factors required for the maintenance of pluripotency is the variability of different fibroblast feeder layers (of mouse or human origin) to effectively support human embryonic stem cells. Currently, the deficiency of knowledge concerning the exact identity of factors within the pathways for self-renewal illustrates that a number of factors may be required to support pluripotent, undifferentiated growth of human embryonic stem cells. This study utilized a proteomic analysis (multidimensional chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry) to isolate and identify proteins in the conditioned media of three mitotically inactivated fibroblast lines (human fetal, human neonatal, and mouse embryonic fibroblasts) used to support the undifferentiated growth of human embryonic stem cells. One-hundred seventy-five unique proteins were identified between the three cell lines using a </=1% false positive rate of identification. These proteins were organized into 17 categories. The differentiation and growth factor and extracellular matrix and remodeling categories contained proteins from many of the key pathways already implicated in the maintenance of human embryonic stem cell pluripotency including the Wnt, BMP/TGF-beta1, Activin/Inhibin, and insulin-like growth factor-1 pathways. The conditioned media of fibroblast feeder layers is a complex system, and this study assists in narrowing potential candidates responsible for the support of undifferentiated human embryonic stem cells.

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