In this article we used immunohistochemistry and FACS analyses to show that cells expressing markers typical of human stem cells such as SSEA4, OCT-4, ALP, and CD117 are present within the cytotrophoblastic tissue of human fetal chorionic villus samples (CVSs). After immunoselection of CV cells for SSEA4, FACS analyses showed an increased number of cells positive for OCT-4 and ALP and a small percentage (around 4%) of side population (SP) cells. In the same cell population, RT-PCR indicated the presence of OCT-4, NANOG, and SOX2 transcripts, also typical of stem cells. Depending on the in vitro conditions, a subset of SSEA4+ cells formed colonies resembling hESCs, with limited self renewal ability. At the same time, these cells were able to differentiate in vitro into derivatives of all three germ layers. When inoculated into immunocompromised mice, SSEA4+ cells did not form teratomas but were able to populate depleted hematopoietic tissues. Moreover, after injection into mouse blastocysts, they were incorporated into the inner cell mass and could be traced into several tissues of the adult chimeric mice. Finally, we show that SSEA4+ cells isolated from fetuses affected by Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) can be genetically corrected with high efficiency in culture by Small Fragment Homologous Recombination (SFHR), a gene targeting approach. Taken together, our results indicate that SSEA4+ cells obtained from human CVSs contain a subpopulation of multipotent cells that we propose to name Human Cytotrophoblastic-derived Multipotent Cells (hCTMCs). These cells may be a safe and convenient source of cells for cell-based therapy, as well as an ideal target for in utero fetal gene therapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Biology