Embryonic stem (ES) cells are derived from the inner cell mass of blastocysts, and in response to retinoic acid (RA) are induced to differentiate to form some of the first distinguishable cell types of early mammalian development. This makes ES cells an attractive model system for studying the initial developmental decisions that occur during embryogenesis and the molecular genetics and associated mechanisms underlying these decisions. Additionally, ES cells are of significant interest to those characterizing various gene functions utilizing transgenic and gene-targeting techniques. With the advent of DNA microarray technology, which allows for the study of expression patterns of a large number of genes simultaneously within a cell type, there is an efficient means of gaining critical insights to the expression, regulation, and function of genes involved in mammalian development for which information is not currently available. To this end, we have utilized Clontech's Atlas Mouse cDNA Expression Arrays to examine the expression of 588 known regulatory genes in D3 ES cells and their RA-induced differentiated progeny. We report that nearly 50% of the regulatory genes are expressed in D3 and/or D3-differentiated cells. Of these genes, the steady-state levels of 18 are down-regulated and 61 are up-regulated by a factor of 2.5-fold or greater. These changes in gene expression are highly reproducible and represent changes in the expression of a variety of molecular markers, including: transcription factors, growth factors and their receptors, cytoskeletal and extracellular matrix proteins, cell surface antigens, and intracellular signal transduction modulators and effectors.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.