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Histochem Cell Biol. 2010 May;133(5):595-606. doi: 10.1007/s00418-010-0689-7. Epub 2010 Apr 6.

Spatial and temporal expression pattern of germ layer markers during human embryonic stem cell differentiation in embryoid bodies.

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  • 1Regea Institute for Regenerative Medicine, University of Tampere, Tampere University Hospital, Biokatu 12, 33520, Tampere, Finland.


Human embryonic stem cell (hESC) differentiation in embryoid bodies (EBs) provides a valuable tool to study the interplay of different germ layers and their influence on cell differentiation. The gene expression of the developing EBs has been shown in many studies, but the protein expression and the spatial composition of different germ layers in human EBs have not been systematically studied. The aim of the present work was to study the temporal and spatial organisation of germ layers based on the expression of mesoderm (Brachyury T), endoderm (AFP) and ectoderm (SOX1) markers during the early stages of differentiation in eight hESC lines. Tissue multi-array technology was applied to study the protein expression of a large number of EBs. According to our results, EB formation and the organisation of germ layers occurred in a similar manner in all the lines. During 12 days of differentiation, all the germ layer markers were present, but no obvious distinct trajectories were formed. However, older EBs were highly organised in structure. Pluripotency marker OCT3/4 expression persisted unexpectedly long in the differentiating EBs. Cavity formation was observed in the immunocytological sections, and caspase-3 expression was high, suggesting a role of apoptosis in hESC differentiation and/or EB formation. The expression of Brachyury T was notably low in all the lines, also those with the best cardiac differentiation capacity, while the expression of SOX1 was higher in some lines, suggesting that the neural differentiation propensity may be detectable already in the early stages of EB differentiation.

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