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Open Access Research

Human amniotic epithelial cells differentiate into cells expressing germ cell specific markers when cultured in medium containing serum substitute supplement

Ayelet Evron12, Shlomit Goldman1 and Eliezer Shalev12*

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory for Research in Reproductive Sciences, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Emek Medical Center, Afula, Israel

2 Rappaport, Faculty of Medicine, Technion, Haifa, Israel

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Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology 2012, 10:108  doi:10.1186/1477-7827-10-108

Published: 14 December 2012

Abstract

Background

Human amniotic epithelial cells (hAECs) maintain the plasticity of pregastrulation embryonic cells, having the potential to differentiate into all three germ layers. The potential of these cells to differentiate into cells expressing germ cell specific markers has never been described before.

Methods

In the present study, hAECs were cultured in medium containing serum substitute supplement (SSS). Gene and protein expression of germ cell and oocyte specific markers was assessed by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), immunofluorescence staining and flow activated cell sorter analysis (FACS) in hAECs at different time points during the differentiation into cells expressing germ cell specific markers.

Results

When cultured with SSS, already at passage 1, hAECs start to express the germ cell specific genes C-KIT, DAZL, VASA and ZP3 and at passage 5 large round cells, resembling oocytes, appeared. The cells express the germ cell specific marker DAZL, the oocyte specific markers GDF9 and ZP3 and the meiosis specific markers DMC1 and SCP3 at the protein level.

Conclusions

From our preliminary results we can conclude that hAECs have the potential to differentiate into cells expressing germ cell specific markers.

Keywords:
Amniotic epithelial cells; Germ cell specific markers; Differentiation