ISCI researchers also found that the cell lines shared some molecular signatures.

Scientists with the International Stem Cell Initiative (ISCI) determined a set of common gene expression markers that could be used to reliably characterize diverse human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines.

The ISCI carried out a comparative study of a large and diverse collection of hESC lines from 17 laboratories in the U.S., Europe, Israel, Japan, and Australia. They used several approaches to identify a reliable set of genetic markers to characterize hESCs, which included profiling 93 genes in 59 different cell lines.

The team used Applied Biosystems’ 7900HT Fast Real-Time PCR System and custom TaqMan® Arrays to identify six genetic markers and 14 additional genes highly correlated with a key pluripotency marker in all the cell lines tested.

Another finding from this first phase of the ISCI project was that all 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. The scientists expect that these newly identified molecular markers may be used to validate the potential of individual hESC lines to differentiate into other types of cells.

As a result of this ISCI study, Applied Biosystems has developed the TaqMan Array Human Stem Cell Pluripotency Panel, which targets 96 genes for independent monitoring of hESC lines to help investigators compare cell lines derived from diverse sources.

The next phase of the ISCI work, according to the investigators, will add hESCs to the study to verify their initial results and will test the effects of different culture media on hESC growth and differentiation and on genetic changes in these cells. A comprehensive registry of the ISCI cell lines and their molecular characteristics is now publicly available.

The study is published in the July issue of Nature Biotechnology.

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