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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Directed differentiation of endodermal cells from mouse embryonic stem cells Kim, Peter Tae Wan


Pluripotent embryonic stem cells hold a great promise as an unlimited source of tissue for treatment of chronic diseases such as Type 1 diabetes and chronic liver disease. Various attempts have been made to produce cells that can serve as precursors for pancreas and liver. By using all-trans-retinoic acid, basic fibroblast growth factor, dibutyryl cAMP, and cyclopamine, an attempt has been made to produce definitive endoderm and subsequently cells that can serve as pancreatic and hepatocyte precursors from mouse embryonic stem cells. By using retinoic acid and basic-FGF, in the absence of embryoid body formation, mouse embryonic stem cells were differentiated at different culture periods. Four protocols of varying lengths of culture and reagents and their cells were analyzed by quantitative PCR, immunohistochemistry and static insulin release assay for markers of trilaminar embryo, pancreas and hepatocytes. Inclusion of DBcAMP and extension of culture time resulted in cells that display features of definitive endoderm by expression of Sox 17 and FOXA2 and minimal expression of primitive endoderm and other germ cell layers such as ectoderm and mesoderm. These cells produced insulin and C-peptide and secreted insulin in a glucose responsive manner. However, they seem to lack mature insulin secretion mechanism. There was a production of hepatocyte markers (AFP-2 and transthyretin) but there was insufficient data to assess for convincing production of hepatocytes. In summary, one of the protocols produced cells that displayed characteristics of definitive endoderm and they may serve as pancreatic endocrine precursors.

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