Gene and Cell Surface Marker Expression of Pluripotent Stem Cells

PSC marker expression

Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) are characterized by specific cell-surface markers, such as the glycolipid antigens SSEA3 and SSEA4, as well as the glycoprotein antigens TRA-1-60 and TRA-1-81. These antigens were initially identified on embryonic carcinoma cell lines derived from human germ cell tumors (Andrews et al., 1996) and also mark cells of the inner cell mass of pre-implantation human embryos (Henderson et al., 2002).

Transcription factors OCT3/4, SOX2, and NANOG are also highly expressed by hPSCs, and are key elements in the “pluripotency network.” They have established roles in maintaining the undifferentiated state and in generating induced pluripotent stem cells. In high-quality cultures, these cell surface and intracellular markers should be homogeneously expressed in nearly all cells.

More recently, transcriptome analyses have provided a more comprehensive view of the gene expression profile of hPSCs and allowed identification of gene signatures characterizing a spectrum of pluripotent states. New bioinformatic analyses and tools developed to understand and compare transcriptomic data will facilitate its use as a quality indicator for cell lines.

Key Publications