The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 44: 443 - 450 (2000)

Vol 44, Issue 5

Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) induce epithelial differentiation of NT2D1 human embryonal carcinoma cells

Published: 30 November -0001

A Caricasole, D Ward-van Oostwaard, L Zeinstra, A van den Eijnden-van Raaij and C Mummery

Hubrecht Laboratory, Netherlands Institute for Developmental Biology, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Human embryonal carcinoma (EC) cells represent the stem cells of testicular germ cell tumours (TGCTs) and are morphologically, antigenically and functionally related to the stem cells of early mammalian embryos. Despite the large capacity for differentiation displayed by TGCT stem cells, little is known of the factors controlling their developmental potency. We have analyzed the differentiation elicited in NT2D1 human embryonal carcinoma (EC) cells by Bone Morphogenetic Proteins (BMPs) and compared it with that elicited by retinoic acid (RA). We have found that while RA induced expression of neuronal, endodermal and epithelial markers in NT2D1 human EC cells, treatment with BMPs resulted in a predominantly epithelial phenotype. We also provide evidence to suggest that at least some of the effects elicited by RA in human EC cells might be mediated through RA-induced expression of BMP-7. Thus BMPs may play an important role in specifying the type of differentiation arising from human multipotent stem cells. The manipulation of BMP signalling in human embryonic multipotent stem cells may therefore prove a useful approach in attempts to generate specific differentiated cell types in vitro, and loss of the malignant and/or transformed phenotype.

Full text in web format is not available for this article. Please download the PDF version.