We previously demonstrated that mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells show a wide variation in the expression of platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule 1 (PECAM1) and that the level of expression is positively correlated with the pluripotency of ES cells. We also found that PECAM1-positive ES cells could be divided into two subpopulations according to the expression of stage-specific embryonic antigen (SSEA)-1. ES cells that showed both PECAM1 and SSEA-1 predominantly differentiated into epiblast after the blastocyst stage. In the present study, we performed pairwise oligo microarray analysis to characterize gene expression profiles in PECAM1-positive and -negative subpopulations of ES cells. The microarray analysis identified 2034 genes with a more than 2-fold difference in expression levels between the PECAM1-positive and -negative cells. Of these genes, 803 were more highly expressed in PECAM1-positive cells and 1231 were more highly expressed in PECAM1-negative cells. As expected, genes known to function in ES cells, such as Pou5f1 (Oct3/4) and Nanog, were found to be upregulated in PECAM1-positive cells. We also isolated 23 previously uncharacterized genes. A comparison of gene expression profiles in PECAM1-positive cells that were either positive or negative for SSEA-1 expression identified only 53 genes that showed a more than 2-fold greater difference in expression levels between these subpopulations. However, many genes that are under epigenetic regulation, such as globins, Igf2, Igf2r, and H19, showed differential expression. Our results suggest that in addition to differences in gene expression profiles, epigenetic status was altered in the three cell subpopulations.
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