Stem Cells 1

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ANAT3231 Cell Biology online lectures from the 2017 course.

Stem Cells


Week 1 Human Development - Embryonic Stem Cells
Inner cell mass

The term "stem cell" is used so freely these days in many different forums that it is difficult sometimes understand without context what scientists, politicians, ethicists and commentators are discussing. This lecture will focus on the cell biology of stem cells and the current research on growing and differentiating theses cells.

Background information

Why are they in the News?

  • Scientific and Ethical
  • Therapeutic uses
  • Issues relating to human cloning
  • Use of excess human eggs/sperm for research purposes
  • Availability of human stem cell lines

What can they be used for?

  • Generation of “knock out” mice
  • Studying regulation of cell differentiation in development
  • Therapeutic uses?
  • Genetic disease
  • Neurodegenerative
  • Injury


  • Medline Search “stem cell” 2002 - 110,920 | 2004 - 128,485 | 2005 - 140,966 | 2006 - 154,176 | 2011 - 182,559

Research that led to Stem Cells

:Progenitor and stem cell
  • Human Diseases
    • Generation of “knock out” mice
  • Human Development
    • Studying regulation of cell differentiation in development
  • Human Reproduction
    • Disorders, sterility

Tissue Stem Cells

  • differentiated cells have short life spans continually replaced
  • blood cells, epithelial cells of skin and digestive tract
  • fully differentiated cells do not proliferate
  • proliferation of less differentiated- stem cells
  • produce daughter cells that either differentiate or remain as stem cells

Blood Cells

Hematopoietic and stromal cell differentiation
  • All different types of blood cells develop from a pluripotent stem cell in bone marrow
  • Precursors of differentiated cells undergo several rounds of cell division as they mature
    • proliferation ceases at terminal stages of differentiation

Embryonic Stem Cells

Difference between a Progenitor and Stem Cell

NIH - What are embryonic stem cells?

Pluripotent Stem Cells

  • What is a stem cell- Pluripotent
  • Pluripotent - to describe stem cells that can give rise to cells derived from all 3 embryonic germ layers
    • Mesoderm
    • Endoderm
    • Ectoderm
  • layers are embryonic source of all cells of the body


  • hollow structure composed of about 100 cells surrounding an inner cavity
  • Only ES cells, which form inner cell mass, actually form the embryo.
  • ES cells can be removed from the blastocyst and grown on lethally irradiated “feeder cells.” (See E. Robertson et al., 1986, Nature 323:445)

Stem Cell Definition

  • cell that has ability to divide for indefinite periods
  • self replicate
  • throughout life of organism
  • stem cells can differentiate
    • conditions, signals
  • to the many different cell types

Chimeric Mouse

  • ES or teratocarcinoma
  • shows that stem cells can combine with cells of a normal blastocyst to form a healthy chimeric mouse

Embryoid Bodies

  • spheroid cellular tissue culture structure
  • mouse and human ES cells have the capacity to undergo controlled differentiation
  • recapitulate some aspects of early development
    • regional-specific differentiation program
    • derivatives of all three embryonic germ layers

Historic References


  • Isolation of a pluripotent cell line from early mouse embryos cultured in medium conditioned by teratocarcinoma stem cells. Martin GR. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1981 Dec;78(12):7634-8.
  • Characterization of a pluripotent stem cell line derived from a mouse embryo. Wobus AM, Holzhausen H, Jakel P, Schoneich J. Exp Cell Res. 1984 May;152(1):212-9.
  • Transgenesis by means of blastocyst-derived embryonic stem cell lines Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1986 Dec;83(23):9065-9. Gossler A, Doetschman T, Korn R, Serfling E, Kemler R.

Pig and Sheep

Derivation of pluripotent, embryonic cell lines from the pig and sheep. Notarianni E, Galli C, Laurie S, Moor RM, Evans MJ. J Reprod Fertil Suppl. 1991;43:255-60.


Isolation of a primate embryonic stem cell line. Thomson JA, Kalishman J, Golos TG, Durning M, Harris CP, Becker RA, Hearn JP. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1995 Aug 15;92(17):7844-8.


Embryonic stem cell lines derived from human blastocysts. Thomson JA, Itskovitz-Eldor J, Shapiro SS, Waknitz MA, Swiergiel JJ, Marshall VS, Jones JM. Science. 1998 Nov 6;282(5391):1145-7.

Stem Cell Lines ATCC - Embryonic Stem cell lines

Timeline of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research

  • 1878 First reported attempts to fertilize mammalian eggs outside the body
  • 1959 First report of animals (rabbits) produced through IVF in the United States
  • 1960's Studies of teratocarcinomas in the testes of several inbred strains of mice indicates they originated from embryonic germ cells. The work establishes embryonal carcinoma (EC) cells as a kind of stem cell
  • 1968 Edwards and Bavister fertilize the first human egg in vitro
  • 1970's EC cells injected into mouse blastocysts produce chimeric mice. Cultured SC cells are explored as models of embryonic development, although their complement of chromosomes is abnormal
  • 1978 Louise Brown, the first IVF baby, is born in England
  • 1980 Australia's first IVF baby, Candace Reed, is born in Melbourne
  • 1981 Evans and Kaufman, and Martin derive mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells from the inner cell mass of blastocysts. They establish culture conditions for growing pluripotent mouse ES cells in vitro. The ES cells yield cell lines with normal, diploid karyotyes and generate derivatives of all three primary germ layers as well as primordial germ cells. Injecting the ES cells into mice induces the formation of teratomas. The first IVF baby, Elizabeth Carr, is born in the United States.
  • 1984–88 Andrews et al., develop pluripotent, genetically identical (clonal) cells called embryonal carcinoma (EC) cells from Tera-2, a cell line of human testicular teratocarcinoma. Cloned human teratoma cells exposed to retinoic acid differentiate into neuron-like cells and other cell types
  • 1989 Pera et al., derive a clonal line of human embryonal carcinoma cells, which yields tissues from all three primary germ layers. The cells are aneuploid (fewer or greater than the normal number of chromosomes in the cell) and their potential to differentiate spontaneously in vitro is typically limited. The behavior of human EC cell clones differs from that of mouse ES or EC cells
  • 1994 Human blastocysts created for reproductive purposes using IVF and donated by patients for research, are generated from the 2-pronuclear stage. The inner cell mass of the blastocyst is maintained in culture and generates aggregates with trophoblast-like cells at the periphery and ES-like cells in the center. The cells retain a complete set of chromosomes (normal karyotype); most cultures retain a stem cell-like morphology, although some inner cell mass clumps differentiate into fibroblasts. The cultures are maintained for two passages
  • 1995–96 Non-human primate ES cells are derived and maintained in vitro, first from the inner cell mass of rhesus monkeys, and then from marmosets. The primate ES cells are diploid and have normal karyotypes. They are pluripotent and differentiate into cells types derived from all three primary germ layers. The primate ES cells resemble human EC cells and indicate that it should be possible to derive and maintain human ES cells in vitro.
  • 1998 Thomson et al., derive human ES cells from the inner cell mass of normal human blastocysts donated by couples undergoing treatment for infertility. The cells are cultured through many passages, retain their normal karyotypes, maintain high levels of telomerase activity, and express a panel of markers typical of human EC cells non-human primate ES cells. Several (non-clonal) cell lines are established that form teratomas when injected into immune-deficient mice. The teratomas include cell types derived from all three primary germ layers, demonstrating the pluripotency of human ES cells. Gearhart and colleagues derive human embryonic germ (EG) cells from the gonadal ridge and mesenchyma of 5- to 9-week fetal tissue that resulted from elective abortions. They grow EG cells in vitro for approximately 20 passages, and the cells maintain normal karyotypes. The cells spontaneously form aggregates that differentiate spontaneously, and ultimately contain derivatives of all three primary germ layers. Other indications of their pluripotency include the expression of a panel of markers typical of mouse ES and EG cells. The EG cells do not form teratomas when injected into immune-deficient mice
  • 2000 Scientists in Singapore and Australia led by Pera, Trounson, and Bongso derive human ES cells from the inner cell mass of blastocysts donated by couples undergoing treatment for infertility. The ES cells proliferate for extended periods in vitro, maintain normal karyotypes, differentiate spontaneously into somatic cell lineages derived from all three primary germ layers, and form teratomas when injected into immune-deficient mice.
  • 2001 As human ES cell lines are shared and new lines are derived, more research groups report methods to direct the differentiation of the cells in vitro. Many of the methods are aimed at generating human tissues for transplantation purposes, including pancreatic islet cells, neurons that release dopamine, and cardiac muscle cells.

Modified from NIH - Stem Cells: Scientific Progress and Future Research Directions 2001

Cord Blood Stem Cells

  • Blood collected from the placental umbilical cord of a newborn baby shortly after birth
    • total amount of blood about 90 ml
  • blood stem cells that can be used to generate red blood cells and cells of the immune system
  • collected, typed, stored in Cord Blood Bank
    • Both public and private Banks have arisen
    • available for use by the donor and compatible siblings
  • suggested use to treat a range of blood disorders and immune system conditions such as leukaemia, anaemia and autoimmune diseases
  • cells provide a resource for bone marrow replacement therapy in many diseases

Cord Blood - Disease Treatments

  • Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia
  • Acute Myeloblastic Leukaemia
  • Adrenoleukodystrophy
  • Blackfan-Diamond
  • Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia
  • Chronic Lymphocytic leukaemia
  • Fanconi's Anaemia
  • Hurler's Syndrome
  • Krabbe's disease
  • Lymphomas
  • Myelodysplastic Syndrome
  • Mucolipopolysaccharide deficiency
  • Osteopetrosis
  • Syndrome Severe Aplastic Anaemia
  • Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disease
  • Thalassaemia
  • Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome
  • Miscellaneous
  • Cancer
  • Genetic disorders
  • Immune deficiency
  • Storage disorders

Adult Stem Cells

NIH - What are adult stem cells?

Stem Cells in the Adult

  • Connective Tissue
  • Bone marrow
    • Blood Cells, Osteoclasts, blasts
  • Epithelia
    • Gut
    • Skin
  • Neural?

Epidermis: Immortal Stem Cell

Induced Pluripotent Cells

  • non-pluripotent cells engineered to become pluripotent
    • a cell with a specialized function ‘reprogrammed’ to an unspecialized state

Embryonic vs Adult Stem Cells

Embryonic Stem Cell Advantages

  • Pluripotency - ability to differentiateinto any cell type.
  • Immortal - one cell can supply endless amounts of cells.
  • Easily available - human embryos from fertility clinics.

Embryonic Stem Cell Disadvantages

  • Unstable - difficult to control differentiation into specific cell type.
  • Immunogenic - potential immune rejection when transplanted into patients.
  • Teratomas - tumor composed of tissues from 3 embryonic germ layers.
  • Ethical Controversy - unethical for those who believes that life begins at conception.

Adult Stem Cell Advantages

  • Already ‘specialised’ - induction of differentiation into specific cell types will be easier.
  • Plasticity - Recent evidences suggest wider than previously thought ranges of tissue types can be derived.
  • No Immune-rejection - if used in autologous transplantations.
  • No Teratomas - unlike ES cells.
  • No Ethical Controversy - sourced from adult tissues.

Adult Stem Cell Disadvantages

  • Minimal quantity - number of isolatable cells may be small.
  • Finite life-span - may have limited lifespan in culture.
  • Ageing - stem cells from aged individuals may have higher chance of genetic damage due to ageing.
  • Immunogenic - potential immune rejection if donor cells are derived from another individual.



Essential Cell Biology

  • Chapter 19 Tissues p622-627

Molecular Biology of the Cell

Alberts, Bruce; Johnson, Alexander; Lewis, Julian; Raff, Martin; Roberts, Keith; Walter, Peter New York and London: Garland Science; c2002

  • Molecular Biology of the Cell 4th ed. - Chapter 19 Cellular Mechanisms of Development p1037-1039

Molecular Cell Biology

Lodish, Harvey; Berk, Arnold; Zipursky, S. Lawrence; Matsudaira, Paul; Baltimore, David; Darnell, James E. New York: W. H. Freeman & Co.; c1999

The Cell- A Molecular Approach

Cooper, Geoffrey M. Sunderland (MA): Sinauer Associates, Inc.; c2000

  • The Cell - A Molecular Approach - IV. Cell Regulation Chapter 14. Cell Proliferation in Development and Differentiation
  • Stem Cells

Search Online Textbooks




  • Jensen J, Hyllner J, Björquist P. Human embryonic stem cell technologies and drug discovery. J Cell Physiol. 2009 Jun;219(3):513-9. Review. PMID: 19277978


  • Allen ND, Baird DM. Telomere length maintenance in stem cell populations. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2009 Feb 11. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 19419691
  • Kenji Matsumoto, Takayuki Isagawa, Toshinobu Nishimura, Takunori Ogaeri, Koji Eto, Satsuki Miyazaki, Jun-ichi Miyazaki, Hiroyuki Aburatani, Hiromitsu Nakauchi, and Hideo Ema Stepwise Development of Hematopoietic Stem Cells from Embryonic Stem Cells PLoS ONE. 2009; 4(3): e4820. Published online 2009 March 16. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0004820. PMCID: PMC2653650
  • Tesar PJ. Derivation of germ-line-competent embryonic stem cell lines from preblastocyst mouse embryos. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Jun 7;102(23):8239-44. Epub 2005 May 25. PMID: 15917331

Search Entrez



StemBook Cambridge (MA): Harvard Stem Cell Institute; 2008.

"StemBook is an open access collection of invited, original, peer-reviewed chapters covering a range of topics related to stem cell biology written by top researchers in the field at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and worldwide. StemBook is aimed at stem cell and non-specialist researchers."

2012 Course Content

Lectures: Cell Biology Introduction | Cells Eukaryotes and Prokaryotes | Cell Membranes and Compartments | Cell Nucleus | Cell Export - Exocytosis | Cell Import - Endocytosis | Cell Mitochondria | Cell Junctions | Cytoskeleton Introduction | Cytoskeleton - Intermediate Filaments | Cytoskeleton - Microfilaments | Cytoskeleton - Microtubules | Extracellular Matrix 1 | Extracellular Matrix 2 | Cell Cycle | Cell Division | Cell Death 1 | Cell Death 2 | Signal 1 | Signal 2 | Stem Cells 1 | Stem Cells 2 | 2012 Revision | Development

Laboratories: Introduction to Lab | Microscopy Methods | Preparation/Fixation | Immunochemistry | Cell Knockout Methods | Cytoskeleton Exercise | Confocal Microscopy | Microarray Visit | Tissue Culture 1 | Tissue Culture 2 | Stem Cells Lab | Stem Cells Analysis

2012 Projects: Group 1 | Group 2 | Group 3 | Group 4 | Group 5 | Group 6 | Group 7 | Group 8 | Group 9

Dr Mark Hill 2015, UNSW Cell Biology - UNSW CRICOS Provider Code No. 00098G