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Exp Cell Res. 1994 Nov;215(1):189-98.

Hepatocytic transcription factor expression in human embryonal carcinoma and yolk sac carcinoma cell lines: expression of HNF-3 alpha in models of early endodermal cell differentiation.

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Department of Zoology, Oxford University, United Kingdom.


Retinoic acid treatment of the multipotent human embryonal carcinoma cell line GCT 27 X-1 induced differentiation into an epithelial cell type which morphologically resembled rodent visceral endoderm in vitro. The differentiated cells expressed some markers characteristic of yolk sac, such as cytokeratin 19 and extracellular matrix proteins, but none of the secreted serum proteins produced by normal yolk sac or liver. HNF-3 alpha expression increased upon retinoic acid-induced GCT 27 X-1 differentiation. This increase in HNF-3 alpha expression may characterize an early stage in the differentiation of extraembryonic endoderm. In support of this hypothesis, we found that a yolk sac carcinoma cell line with a phenotype similar to rodent visceral endoderm expressed transcripts for HNF-1 alpha, -1 beta, -3 alpha, -3 beta, -3 gamma, and 4, whereas yolk sac carcinoma cell lines resembling rodent parietal endoderm expressed transcripts for HNF-3 alpha. The results support the conclusion that hepatocytic transcription factors, particularly HNF-3 alpha, may play an important role in early endodermal differentiation in man.

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