Human Embryonic Stem (ES) Cells and Induced Pluripotent Stem (iPS) Cells Are Defined by Carbohydrate Markers

  • Akihiro Umezawa
  • Masashi Toyoda


Embryonic stem (ES) cells and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells are sources for regenerative medicine and tissue replacement after injury or disease. The stem cells can be defined based on a distinctive set of cell surface carbohydrate markers. SSEAs are carbohydrate antigens associated with various core glycolipids and are routinely used for the characterization of human pluripotent cells. Human ES cells express SSEA-3 and SSEA-4 but not SSEA-1, while their differentiation is characterized by downregulation of SSEA-3 and SSEA-4 and an upregulation of SSEA-1 (Thomson et al. 1998). SSEA-3 (Galß-globoside) and SSEA-4 (sialyl-Galß-globoside) are epitopes localized at the cell surface that are associated with globoseries glycolipids (Kannagi et al. 1983). Undifferentiated, human ES cells also express the keratin sulphate-associated antigens TRA-1-60 and TRA-1-81 (Badcock et al. 1999). Interestingly, most of these markers are carbohydrates themselves or are closely related to the carbohydrates carried on glycosphingolipids and glycoproteins.


Embryonic Stem Embryonic Stem Cell Pluripotent Stem Cell Human Embryonic Stem Cell Carbohydrate Antigen 
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Copyright information

© Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Akihiro Umezawa
    • 1
  • Masashi Toyoda
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Reproductive BiologyNational Institute for Child Health and DevelopmentTokyoJapan

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