Isolation and characterization of EG-like cells from Chinese swamp buffalo (Bubalus bubalis)


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There have been few studies done on the isolation and characterization of Chinese swamp buffalo embryonic germ cells (EG cells). Here, we first report on EG-like cells isolated from Chinese swamp buffalo fetuses. The results showed the cells grew in large, multilayered colonies, which were densely packed with an obvious border resembling mouse embryonic stem cells (ES cells) and EG cells. The buffalo EG-like cells expressed AP, SSEA-1, SSEA-3, SSEA-4 and OCT-4. By RT—PCR, we found that undifferentiated swamp buffalo EG-like cells expressed the OCT-4, NANOG, SOX2, FOXD3, GP130, STAT3, and HEB gene mRNA, but not Fgf4. When these cells were cultured for more than 2 weeks without passage, they could differentiate into several types of cells including fibroblast-like, neuron-like, smooth muscle-like, and epithelial-like cells. Some cells formed simple embryoid bodies (EBs) and cystic EBs by suspension culture. By RT—PCR, we found cystic EBs expressed FOXD3, GP130, STAT3 and HEB gene mRNA, but not OCT-4, NANOG, and SOX2 gene mRNA, which could be detected in undifferentiated buffalo EG-like cells. At the same time, the expression of KERATIN-14 (Endoderm), GATA4, ACTA2 (Mesoderm) and TUBB3 (Ectoderm) gene mRNA were also detected in cystic EBs. The results suggested that these cells were capable of forming three germ layers in in vitro differentiation. The expression of OCT-4, NANOG and SOX2 might be essential for Chinese swamp buffalo EG-like cells in a pluripotent state. During the isolation and culture of Chinese swamp buffalo EG-like cells, we found the fetuses that were at 30–80 days post-coitus were more efficient than others; and the mechanical method was better than trypsin digestion. The maximal passage of the mechanical method was eight, but the trypsin digestion was just three passages. So it seemed like that the buffalo EG-like cells were sensitive to trypsin. In summary, we were the first to isolate and characterize Chinese swamp buffalo EG-like cells that had morphology and characterization similar to those of established EG/EG-like cells in mouse and human.