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Cytometry B Clin Cytom. 2014 Sep;86(5):299-310. doi: 10.1002/cyto.b.21168. Epub 2014 Apr 11.

Expression pattern of the human ABC transporters in pluripotent embryonic stem cells and in their derivatives.

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Institute of Molecular Pharmacology, Research Centre for Natural Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary.



ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters have key roles in various physiological functions as well as providing chemical defense and stress tolerance in human tissues. In this study, we have examined the expression pattern of all ABC proteins in pluripotent human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and in their differentiated progenies. We paid special attention to the cellular expression and localization of multidrug transporter ABC proteins.


Stem cell differentiation was carried out without chemical induction or cell sorting, and specialized cell types were separated mechanically. Cellular features regarding pluripotency and tissue identity, as well as ABC transporter expression were studied by flow cytomtery, immuno-microscopy, and qPCR-based low-density arrays.


Pluripotent hESCs and differentiated cell types (cardiomyocytes, neuronal cells, and mesenchymal stem cells) were distinguished by morphology, immunostaining markers, and selected mRNA expression patterns. We found that the mRNA expression levels of the 48 human ABC proteins also clearly distinguished the pluripotent and the respective differentiated cell types. When multidrug and lipid transporter ABC protein expression was examined by using well characterized specific antibodies by flow cytometry and confocal microscopy, the protein expression data corresponded well to the mRNA expression results. Moreover, the cellular localization of these important human ABC transporter proteins could be established in the pluripotent and differentiated hESC derived samples.


These studies provide valuable information regarding ABC protein expression in human stem cells and their differentiated offspring. The results may also help to obtain further information concerning the specialized cellular functions of selected ABC transporters.


ABC transporters; cardiomyocyte; flow cytometry; human pluripotent stem cell; mesenchymal cell; microscopy; neural cells; pluripotency; stem cells

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