A robust method for culturing human pluripotent stem (hPS) cells under chemically defined and xeno-free conditions is an important tool for stem cell research and for the development of regenerative medicine. Here, we describe a protocol for monolayer culturing of Oct-4–positive hPS cells on a specific laminin-521 (LN-521) isoform, under xeno-free and chemically defined conditions. The cells are dispersed into single-cell suspension and then plated on LN-521 isoform at densities higher than 5,000 cells per cm2, where they attach, migrate and survive by forming small monolayer cell groups. The cells avidly divide and expand horizontally until the entire dish is covered by a confluent monolayer. LN-521, in combination with E-cadherin, allows cloning of individual hPS cells in separate wells of 96-well plates without the presence of rho-associated protein kinase (ROCK) inhibitors or any other inhibitors of anoikis. Characterization of cells maintained for several months in culture reveals pluripotency with a minimal degree of genetic abnormalities.
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