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Embryonic stem cell lines from human blastocysts: somatic differentiation in vitro

An Erratum to this article was published on 01 May 2000


We describe the derivation of pluripotent embryonic stem (ES) cells from human blastocysts. Two diploid ES cell lines have been cultivated in vitro for extended periods while maintaining expression of markers characteristic of pluripotent primate cells. Human ES cells express the transcription factor Oct-4, essential for development of pluripotential cells in the mouse. When grafted into SCID mice, both lines give rise to teratomas containing derivatives of all three embryonic germ layers. Both cell lines differentiate in vitro into extraembryonic and somatic cell lineages. Neural progenitor cells may be isolated from differentiating ES cell cultures and induced to form mature neurons. Embryonic stem cells provide a model to study early human embryology, an investigational tool for discovery of novel growth factors and medicines, and a potential source of cells for use in transplantation therapy.

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Figure 1: Phase contrast micrographs of ES cells and their differentiated progeny
Figure 2: Marker expression in ES cells and their differentiated progeny.
Figure 3: RT-PCR analysis of gene expression in ES cells and their differentiated derivatives.
Figure 4: Histology of differentiated elements found in teratomas formed in the testis of SCID mice following inoculation of HES-1 or HES-2 colonies.
Figure 5: Phase contrast microscopy and immunochemical analysis of marker expression in neural progenitor cells isolated from differentiating ES cultures.
Figure 6: Phase contrast appearance and marker expression in cultures of neurons derived from progenitor cells shown in Fig. 5.


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We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Dr. Gary Dawson and the staff of the cytogenetics department, Monash Medical Centre, in the analysis of the karyotypes of the cell lines, and Mr. Peter Edwards of the biochemistry department, Monash Medical Centre, for immunoassay of human chorionic gonadotrophin and α-fetoprotein. Tianhao Xiang assisted with the RT-PCR assay for Oct-4. We thank Ms. Jacqui Johnson for assistance with cell culture.

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Correspondence to Martin F. Pera.

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Reubinoff, B., Pera, M., Fong, CY. et al. Embryonic stem cell lines from human blastocysts: somatic differentiation in vitro. Nat Biotechnol 18, 399–404 (2000).

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