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J Exp Zool A Ecol Genet Physiol. 2009 Jun 1;311(5):368-76. doi: 10.1002/jez.535.

Isolation and culture of primary bovine embryonic stem cell colonies by a novel method.

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School of Life Science, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China.


Authentic bovine embryonic stem (ES) cell lines have not been established despite progress made for more than two decades. Isolation and culture of primary ES cell colonies are the first critical step towards establishment of stable ES cell lines. Here we report a novel method designated as "Separate and Seed" that contributes remarkably to efficient derivation of bovine primary ES-like cell colonies from blastocysts. These primary cultured bovine ES-like cells exhibit morphology typical of ES cells and express pluripotent molecular markers including Oct4, Nanog and alkaline phosphatase. Interestingly, bovine primary ES-like cell colonies distinctively express both stage-specific embryonic antigens 1 and 4 (SSEA1 and SSEA4), unlike mouse and human ES cells. These pluripotent markers may be used for characterization of authentic bovine ES cell lines in later studies. In contrast, whole embryos or inner cell mass (ICM) used for primary culture by conventional methods fails to produce primary bovine ES cell colonies that express all pluripotent stem cell markers shown above. Furthermore, bFGF improves growth and maintained undifferentiated state of bovine ES-like cells for several passages, whereas LIF and ERK inhibitor PD98059 known to promote pluripotency of mouse ES cells are unable to sustain bovine ES-like cells. Although continued efforts are required for improving long-term culture of bovine ES cells, this novel "Separate and Seed" method provides an initial effective step that may eventually lead to derivation of authentic bovine ES cell lines.

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