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Dev Biol. 1990 Dec;142(2):406-13.

Expression of growth factors during the differentiation of embryonic stem cells in monolayer.

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Hubrecht Laboratory, Netherlands Institute for Developmental Biology, Utrecht.

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  • Dev Biol 1991 May;145(1):203.


Embryonic stem (ES) cells, derived in culture directly from the inner cells mass (ICM) of blastocysts, more closely resemble their embryonic counterparts than the more commonly used embryonal carcinoma (EC) cells derived from teratocarcinomas. In view of the potential role of growth factors in early development, we have now followed changes in the expression of transforming growth factor beta (in particular TGF beta 1, beta 3, beta 4), platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF-A, PDGF-B) and insulin-like growth factor (IGF II) during the differentiation of ES cells in monolayer. When maintained in medium conditioned by Buffalo rat liver cells (BRL-CM) to inhibit differentiation, ES cells expressed 2.5 and 1.8 kb transcripts for TGF beta 1, as well as transcripts for TGF beta 4, PDGF-A, and low levels of PDGF-B, but not TGF beta 3 or IGF II. After formation of parietal endoderm-like cells by addition of retinoic acid (RA) to BRL-CM, the 1.8-kb transcript of TGF beta 1 and PDGF-A expression were reduced, IGF II mRNA and a single TGF beta 3 transcript of 3.8 kb were induced while PDGF-B and TGF beta 4 remained virtually unchanged. By contrast, in ES cells induced to differentiate by the absence of BRL-CM, unusual transcripts for TGF beta 3 of 3.0 and 6.0 kb became detectable and PDGF-B expression increased. The changes in growth factor expression in ES cells are compared with those in F9 and P19 EC cells induced to differentiate in monolayer by RA.

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