Background: Previous attempts to isolate pluripotent cell lines from rat preimplantation embryo in mouse embryonic stem (ES) cell culture conditions (serum and LIF) were unsuccessful, however the resulting cells exhibited the expression of such traditional pluripotency markers as SSEA-1 and alkaline phosphatase. We addressed the question, which kind of cell lineages are produced from rat preimplantation embryo under "classical" mouse ES conditions.
Results: We characterized two cell lines (C5 and B10) which were obtained from rat blastocysts in medium with serum and LIF. In the B10 cell line we found the expression of genes known to be expressed in trophoblast, Cdx-2, cytokeratin-7, and Hand-1. Also, B10 cells invaded the trophectodermal layer upon injection into rat blastocysts. In contrast to mouse Trophoblast Stem (TS) cells proliferation of B10 cells occurred independently of FGF4. Cells of the C5 line expressed traditional markers of extraembryonic-endoderm (XEN) cells, in particular, GATA-4, but also the pluripotency markers SSEA-1 and Oct-4. C5 cell proliferation exhibited dependence on LIF, which is not known to be required by mouse XEN cells.
Conclusions: Our results confirm and extend previous findings about differences between blastocyst-derived cell lines of rat and mice. Our data show, that the B10 cell line represents a population of FGF4-independent rat TS-like cells. C5 cells show features that have recently become known as characteristic of rat XEN cells. Early passages of C5 and B10 cells contained both, TS and XEN cells. We speculate, that mechanisms maintaining self-renewal of cell lineages in rat preimplantation embryo and their in vitro counterparts, including ES, TS and XEN cells are different than in respective mouse lineages.