Embryonic stem cells contribute to mouse chimeras in the absence of detectable cell fusion

Benjamin L. Kidder, Leann Oseth, Shanna Miller, Betsy A Hirsch, Catherine Verfaillie, Electra Coucouvanis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

Embryonic stem (ES) cells are capable of differentiating into all embryonic and adult cell types following mouse chimera production. Although injection of diploid ES cells into tetraploid blastocysts suggests that tetraploid cells have a selective disadvantage in the developing embryo, tetraploid hybrid cells, formed by cell fusion between ES cells and somatic cells, have been reported to contribute to mouse chimeras. In addition, other examples of apparent stem cell plasticity have recently been shown to be the result of cell fusion. Here we investigate whether ES cells contribute to mouse chimeras through a cell fusion mechanism. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analysis for X and Y chromosomes was performed on dissociated tissues from embryonic, neonatal, and adult wild-type, and chimeric mice to follow the ploidy distributions of cells from various tissues. FISH analysis showed that the ploidy distributions in dissociated tissues, notably the tetraploid cell number, did not differ between chimeric and wild-type tissues. To address the possibility that early cell fusion events are hidden by subsequent reductive divisions or other changes in cell ploidy, we injected Z/EG (lacZ/EGFP) ES cells into ACTB-cre blastocysts. Recombination can only occur as the result of cell fusion, and the recombined allele should persist through any subsequent changes in cell ploidy. We did not detect evidence of fusion in embryonic chimeras either by direct fluorescence microscopy for GFP or by PCR amplification of the recombined Z/EG locus on genomic DNA from ACTB-cre::Z/EG chimeric embryos. Our results argue strongly against cell fusion as a mechanism by which ES cells contribute to chimeras.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-247
Number of pages17
JournalCloning and Stem Cells
Volume10
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2008

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