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Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have great potential for cell-based therapies. However, lack of cell-specific markers thwarts full realization of this as it prevents their identification in vivo, and subsequent purification. In the present study, to ensure cell purity multiple individual clones were derived from the bone marrow of BALB/b and BALB/c mice, and subsequently defined as MSCs by demonstrating their multipotentiality and self-renewal ability. In an effort to define the molecular signature of such MSCs and identify potentially cell-specific markers, an extensive genome-wide microarray analysis was performed comparing eight individual undifferentiated MSC clones to four different controls-corresponding differentiated MSC clones, bone marrow adherent cells, freshly isolated bone marrow cells, and embryonic fibroblasts. Strikingly, all MSC clones expressed differentially high levels of six-transmembrane epithelial antigen of the prostate (STEAP1 and STEAP2). Further, both STEAP members showed an extremely similar expression profile to stem cell antigen-1 (Sca-1) as demonstrated by two-dimensional hierarchical cluster analysis. Most importantly, differentially high levels of STEAP1 and STEAP2 proteins were also detected in human multipotent bone marrow adherent cultures. Thus, STEAPs may represent novel markers of MSCs in man as well as mice. Depletion of STEAP1 in human MSCs using RNAi resulted in decreased cell adhesion to tissue culture plastic. Further work is now needed to fully uncover its function in these cells, and to explore its potential as a marker of MSCs.

Original publication




Journal article


Tissue Eng Part A

Publication Date





2073 - 2083


Animals, Antigens, Neoplasm, Bone Marrow Cells, Cell Differentiation, Cell Lineage, Cell Membrane, Cell Proliferation, Cells, Cultured, Clone Cells, Colony-Forming Units Assay, Gene Expression Profiling, Gene Expression Regulation, Humans, Karyotyping, Male, Membrane Proteins, Mesenchymal Stromal Cells, Mice, Neoplasm Proteins, Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis, Oxidoreductases, Phenotype