alexa A pluripotent human stem-cell clone isolated from the TERA-2 teratocarcinoma line lacks antigens SSEA-3 and SSEA-4 in vitro, but expresses these antigens when grown as a xenograft tumor
Genetics & Molecular Biology

Genetics & Molecular Biology

Journal of Stem Cell Research & Therapy

Author(s): Peter W Andrews, Ivan Damjanov, Daniella Simon Michael Digna

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Human embryonal carcinoma (EC) cells generally express the cell-surface, stage-specific embryonic antigens 3 and 4 (SSEA-3 and SSEA-4), the epitopes of which are defined by two monoclonal antibodies that recognize different portions of an extended globoseries oligosaccharide. To examine further the relationship between these epitopes and the human EC phenotype, we investigated the properties of two newly isolated clones from the human teratocarcinoma cell line, TERA-2. One clone expresses SSEA-3 and SSEA-4; the other does not. Nevertheless, these clones otherwise resemble one another, and based upon their morphology, their expression of other cell-surface antigens, and their ability to form xenograft tumors containing a variety of cell types, we conclude that both clones are composed of pluripotent human EC cells. When exposed to retinoic acid in vitro, neither clone differentiates as extensively as other clones that we have previously derived from TERA-2. These observations indicate heterogeneity among stem cells derived from a single human teratocarcinoma, and suggest that SSEA-3 and SSEA-4 are not necessarily integral features of the human EC phenotype. On the other hand, EC cells in xenograft tumors derived from the SSEA-3- and SSEA-4-negative clone re-express these epitopes. Further, this re-expression is stable, since EC cell lines that are SSEA-3- and SSEA-4-positive grow out when the tumors are explanted in vitro. We conclude that the expression of these globoseries epitopes can be modulated by environmental influences.

This article was published in Differentiation and referenced in Journal of Stem Cell Research & Therapy

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