Int. J. Dev. Biol. 50: 27 - 37 (2006)
doi: 10.1387/ijdb.052107cd
© UBC Press

Common culture conditions for maintenance and cardiomyocyte differentiation of the human embryonic stem cell lines, BG01 and HUES-7

Chris Denning*,1, Cinzia Allegrucci1,2, Helen Priddle1,2, Maria D. Barbadillo-Muoz1,2, David Anderson1, Tim Self3, Nigel M. Smith2,4, C. Tony Parkin4 and Lorraine E. Young1,2

1Institute of Genetics,2Division of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and 3Institute of Cell Signalling, University of Nottingham, Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham, U.K. and 4Department of Cytogenetics, Centre for Medical Genetics, Nottingham City Hospital, Nottingham, U.K.

ABSTRACT Development of generic differentiation protocols that function in a range of independently-derived human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines remains challenging due to considerable diversity in culture methods practiced between lines. Maintenance of BG01 and HUES-7 has routinely been on mouse embryonic fibroblast (MEF) feeder layers using manual- and trypsin-passaging, respectively. We adapted both lines to trypsin-passaging on feeders or on Matrigel in feeder-free conditions and assessed proliferation and cardiac differentiation. On feeders, undifferentiated proliferation of BG01 and HUES-7 was supported by all three media tested (BG-SK, HUES-C and HUES-nL), although incidence of karyotypic instability increased in both lines in BG-SK. On Matrigel, KSR-containing conditioned medium (CM) promoted undifferentiated cell proliferation, while differentiation occurred in CM containing Plasmanate or ES-screened Fetal Bovine Serum (FBS) and in unconditioned medium containing 100 ng/ml bFGF. Matrigel cultures were advantageous for transfection but detrimental to embryoid body (EB) formation. However, transfer of hESCs from Matrigel back to feeders and culturing to confluence was found to rescue EB formation. EBs formed efficiently when hESCs on feeders were treated with collagenase, harvested by scraping and then cultured in suspension in CM. Subsequent culture in FBS-containing medium produced spontaneously contracting EBs, for which the mean beat rate was 37.2 ± 2.3 and 41.1 ± 3.1 beats / min for BG01-EBs and HUES-7-EBs, respectively. Derived cardiomyocytes expressed cardiac genes and responded to pharmacological stimulation. Therefore the same culture and differentiation conditions functioned in two independently-derived hESC lines. Similar studies in other lines may facilitate development of universal protocols.


embryoid body, differentiation, cardiomyocyte, transfection

*Corresponding author e-mail: