A small-molecule fluorescent probe specific for human pluripotent stem cells would serve as a useful tool for basic cell biology research and stem cell therapy. Screening of fluorescent chemical libraries with human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and subsequent evaluation of hit molecules identified a fluorescent compound (Kyoto probe 1 [KP-1]) that selectively labels human pluripotent stem cells. Our analyses indicated that the selectivity results primarily from a distinct expression pattern of ABC transporters in human pluripotent stem cells and from the transporter selectivity of KP-1. Expression of ABCB1 (MDR1) and ABCG2 (BCRP), both of which cause the efflux of KP-1, is repressed in human pluripotent stem cells. Although KP-1, like other pluripotent markers, is not absolutely specific for pluripotent stem cells, the identified chemical probe may be used in conjunction with other reagents.
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