A simple method to test whether any particular human stem cell line is pluripotent is published online this week in Nature Methods. This methodology should allow for a more standardized assessment of pluripotency in the ever-growing number of human embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cell lines.
Human pluripotent stem cells can, in principle, generate any human cell type and are thus exciting both for basic research and for medicine. Mouse stem cell lines can be tested for pluripotency by assessing their ability to build any body part of a mouse. Such a test is ethically impossible in the human; human cells are therefore functionally tested using surrogate, and inevitably less stringent, assays.
Franz-Josef Muller and colleagues now report a bioinformatics-based test for pluripotency in human stem cells. They use large datasets of gene expression patterns in known human pluripotent cell lines to design an algorithm that can distinguish between pluripotent and nonpluripotent cells. This algorithm, and the accompanying publically available web-based software tool, PluriTest, can be used by researchers to predict whether their own human cell line of interest is likely to be pluripotent.Author contact:Franz-Josef Muller (Zentrum fur Integrative Psychiatrie, Kiel, Germany) Tel: +1 617 335 7330; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org