Molecular signature of human embryonic stem cells and its comparison with the mouse

Dev Biol. 2003 Aug 15;260(2):404-13. doi: 10.1016/s0012-1606(03)00256-2.


The molecular mechanism underlying pluripotency is largely unknown. Here, we provide the first global transcriptional profile of the state of "stemness" in human embryonic stem cells (HESCs). We have identified a set of 918 genes enriched in undifferentiated HESCs compared with their differentiated counterparts. These include ligand/receptor pairs and secreted inhibitors of the FGF, TGFbeta/BMP, and Wnt pathways, highlighting a prevalent role for these pathways in HESCs. Importantly, a significant number of HESCs-enriched genes, including several signaling components, are found to be intersected with published mouse embryonic stem cell data, indicating that a "core molecular program" is shared between the two pluripotent stem cells.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / genetics
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Embryo, Mammalian / cytology
  • Expressed Sequence Tags
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors / genetics
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors / metabolism
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / physiology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Signal Transduction
  • Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / genetics
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism


  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors