Using a variety of Agilent Technologies genomics tools, researchers at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the University of Oxford, U.K., have achieved a major milestone in solving some of the perplexing differences between embryonic stem (ES) cells of humans and mice, according to a paper published in the current issue of Nature.
The paper, titled “New Cell Lines from Mouse Epiblast Share Defining Features with Human Embryonic Stem Cells,” describes how the team, led by Ron McKay, Ph.D., derived a new type of pluripotent (able to become any type of tissue) ES cell from mouse embryos that have been implanted in the uterus.
These epiblast stem cells (EpiSCs) are made from the epiblast, the part of the embryo that gives rise to all adult tissues, according to the researchers. EpiSCs are described as being distinct from classic mouse ES cells and share many key features of human ES cells.
“The EpiSCs provide a powerful model to understand the regulation of the mammalian epiblast, the most proximal precursor to all adult cells including those that are a current focus in the field of regenerative medicine,” said Josh Chenoweth, Ph.D., a co-author on the study. “Our characterization of the EpiSCs and human ES cells using global epigenetic characterization and expression analysis tells us that we should think about human ES cells as the developmental equivalent of the epiblast.”
The Nature Editor’s Summary reads, “This should provide an important experimental model to accelerate the use of human ES cells in research and eventually, perhaps, in therapy.”
The researchers used Agilent microarrays to analyze differences and similarities between mouse ES cells, human ES cells and mouse EpiSCs. The applications included gene expression, comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) and chromatin immunuprecipitation on a chip (ChIP-on-chip). Agilent’s online microarray design tool, eArray, and a variety of Agilent informatics software also played roles in the investigation.
“The concept of systems biology has been around for some time, but we’re excited to see integrative analysis producing results using multiple applications from our Genomics portfolio,” said Jay Kaufman, Agilent marketing director, Genomics.
“We recognize that the trend among scientists is to examine biological processes from multiple perspectives, and we continue to add applications accordingly,” Kaufman added.