Embryonic stem cells are characterized by their ability to propagate indefinitely in culture, maintaining a normal karyotype and their undifferentiated state. They have the potential of differentiating into any specialized cell type in the body. An understanding of the transcriptional profile related to pluripotency and early development is necessary to better tap their developmental potential and also maintain their undifferentiated phenotype. Currently, several techniques are in use to ascertain the gene expression profile of embryonic stem cells. This review summarizes the information generated using microarray and other approaches on the gene expression analyses of stem cells in both mouse and human cell lines. We also discuss specific approaches useful in future studies aimed at further deciphering the pluripotent nature of human embryonic stem cells.
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