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Theriogenology. 2012 Nov;78(8):1774-86. doi: 10.1016/j.theriogenology.2012.06.017. Epub 2012 Aug 24.

Generation of rabbit pluripotent stem cell lines.

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Molecular Animal Biotechnology Laboratory, Szent Istvan University, Godollo, Hungary.


Pluripotent stem cells have the capacity to divide indefinitely and to differentiate into all somatic cells and tissue lines. They can be genetically manipulated in vitro by knocking genes in or out, and therefore serve as an excellent tool for gene function studies and for the generation of models for some human diseases. Since 1981, when the first mouse embryonic stem cell (ESC) line was generated, many attempts have been made to generate pluripotent stem cell lines from other species. Comparative characterization of ESCs from different species would help us to understand differences and similarities in the signaling pathways involved in the maintenance of pluripotency and the initiation of differentiation, and would reveal whether the fundamental mechanism controlling self-renewal of pluripotent cells is conserved across different species. This report gives an overview of research into embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells in the rabbit, an important nonrodent species with considerable merits as an animal model for specific diseases. A number of putative rabbit ESC and induced pluripotent stem cell lines have been described. All of them expressed stem cell-associated markers and maintained apparent pluripotency during multiple passages in vitro, but none have been convincingly proven to be fully pluripotent in vivo. Moreover, as in other domestic species, the markers currently used to characterize the putative rabbit ESCs are suboptimal because recent studies have revealed that they are not always specific to the pluripotent inner cell mass. Future validation of rabbit pluripotent stem cells would benefit greatly from a validated panel of molecular markers specific to pluripotent cells of the developing rabbit embryos. Using rabbit-specific pluripotency genes may improve the efficiency of somatic cell reprogramming for generating induced pluripotent stem cells and thereby overcome some of the challenges limiting the potential of this technology.

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