Comparing the protein expression profiles of human mesenchymal stem cells and human osteoblasts using gene ontologies

Stem Cells Dev. 2005 Aug;14(4):354-66. doi: 10.1089/scd.2005.14.354.


One of the hallmark events regulating the process of osteogenesis is the transition of undifferentiated human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) found in the bone marrow into mineralized-matrix producing osteoblasts (hOSTs) through mechanisms that are not entirely understood. With recent developments in mass spectrometry and its potential application to the systematic definition of the stem cell proteome, proteins that govern cell fate decisions can be identified and tracked during this differentiation process. We hypothesize that protein profiling of hMSCs and hOSTs will identify potential osteogenic marker proteins associated with hMSC commitment and hOST differentiation. To identify markers for each cell population, we analyzed the expression of hMSC proteins and compared them to that of hOST by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis and two-dimensional liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (2D LC-MS/MS). The 2D LC-MS/MS data sets were analyzed using the Database for Annotation, Visualization and Integrated Discovery (DAVID). Only 34% of the spots in 2D gels were found in both cell populations; of those that differed between populations, 65% were unique to hOST cells. Of the 755 different proteins identified by 2D LCMS/ MS in both cell populations, two sets of 247 and 158 proteins were found only in hMSCs and hOST cells, respectively. Differential expression of some of the identified proteins was further confirmed by Western blot analyses. Substantial differences in clusters of proteins responsible for calcium- based signaling and cell adhesion were found between the two cell types. Osteogenic differentiation is accompanied by a substantial change in the overall protein expression profile of hMSCs. This study, using gene ontology analysis, reveals that these changes occur in clusters of functionally related proteins. These proteins may serve as markers for identifying stem cell differentiation into osteogenic fates because they promote differentiation by mechanisms that remain to be defined.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Blotting, Western
  • Bone Marrow Cells / cytology
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Line
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Two-Dimensional
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Osteoblasts / cytology*
  • Osteogenesis
  • Protein Array Analysis / methods
  • Proteome
  • Proteomics / methods


  • Proteome
  • Calcium