Cell Adhesion and Migration
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Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) can be directed to differentiate into a number of endoderm cell types, however mature functional cells have yet to be produced in vitro. This suggests that there may be important factors that have yet to be described, which may be essential for the proper derivation of these cells. One such factor is the integrin mediated interactions between a cell and the extracellular matrix (ECM). On this basis, the present study investigated the role of the ECM in the directed differentiation of hESCs to definitive endoderm via analysis of integrin gene expression. The results showed that definitive endoderm can be efficiently and effectively derived from hESCs in a feeder free, single defined ECM of laminin. Analysis of integrin expression also showed that definitive endoderm highly express the integrins αV and β5, which have the ability to bind to vitronectin, whilst expression of the pluripotency related laminin binding integrins α3, α6 and β4 were downregulated. This suggested a potential role of vitronectin binding integrins in the development of definitive endoderm. © 2010 Landes Bioscience.