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Buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) Embryonic Stem Cell-Like Cells and Preimplantation Embryos Exhibit Comparable Expression of Pluripotency-Related Antigens


Author’s address (for correspondence): Dr P Palta, Animal Biotechnology Center, National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal-132001, India. E-mail:


In this study, inner cell mass (ICM) cells were isolated from in vitro produced buffalo blastocysts and were cultured on mitomycin-C treated buffalo foetal fibroblast feeder layer for producing embryonic stem (ES) cells. Among different sources (hatched vs expanded blastocysts) or methods (enzymatic vs mechanical), mechanical isolation of ICM from hatched blastocysts resulted in the highest primary colony formation rate and the maximum passage number up to which ES cells survived. Putative ES cells expressed alkaline phosphatase and exhibited a normal karyotype up to passage 7. Putative ES cells and embryos at 2- to 4-cell, 8- to 16-cell, morula and blastocyst stages strongly expressed stage-specific embryonic antigen (SSEA)-4 but lacked expressions of SSEA-1 and SSEA-3. Putative ES cells also expressed tumour rejection antigen (TRA)-1-60, TRA-1-81 and Oct4. Whereas in all early embryonic stages, TRA-1-60 was observed only in the periplasmic space, and TRA-1-81 expression was observed as small spots at a few places inside the embryos, both these markers were expressed by ICM. Oct4 expression, which was observed at all the embryonic stages and also in the trophectoderm, was the strongest in the ICM. Buffalo putative ES cells possess a unique pluripotency-related surface antigen phenotype, which resembles that of the ICM.