Researchers Identify Essential Markers to Characterize Human Embryonic

Stem Cell Lines
Written by obbec staff
Wednesday, 11 July 2007

According to a recent press report from Applied Biosystems, researchers with the International Stem Cell Initiative (ISCI) have identified a set of common gene expression markers that may be used to reliably characterize diverse human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines. The initiative represents the first internationally coordinated effort to provide a systematic and comparative survey of the hESC lines available from various research groups around the world. The research findings were published in the July issue of Nature Biotechnology.
Well-characterized, stable cell lines that can be predictably reproduced are essential for successful stem cell research, yet scientists previously have not had a reliable means to understand similarities and differences among the cell lines available for study.

To address this challenge, the ISCI employed technology from Applied Biosystems to carry out the first comparative study of a large and diverse collection of hESC lines from 17 laboratories in the U.S., Europe, Israel, Japan, and Australia. The team used several approaches to identify a reliable set of genetic markers to characterize hESCs, which included profiling 93 genes in 59 different cell lines.

A major finding from this first phase of the ICSI project was that all of the cell lines studied shared a number of key molecular signatures, despite different genetic constitutions and the various culture techniques to which they have been subjected. It is expected that these newly identified molecular markers may be used to validate the potential of individual hESC lines to differentiate into other types of cells, also referred to as their pluripotency status, the report outlined.

The ISCI scientists used the Applied Biosystems 7900HT Fast Real-Time PCR System and custom Applied Biosystems TaqMan Arrays to identify six key genetic markers and 14 additional genes highly correlated with a key pluripotency marker in all the cell lines tested. Applied Biosystems worked with the ISCI researchers at the centralized analytical laboratory at the University of Sheffield in the U.K., to select the assays, process the arrays and analyze the results.