Conventional human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC) cultures require high concentrations of expensive human fibroblast growth factor 2 (hFGF-2) for hPSC self-renewal and pluripotency in defined media for long-term culture. The thermal instability of the hFGF-2 mandates media change every day, which makes hPSC culture costly and cumbersome. Human DJ-1 (hDJ-1) can bind to and stimulate FGF receptor-1. In this study, for the first time, we have replaced hFGF-2 with hDJ-1 in the essential eight media and maintained the human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), H9, in the defined media at feeder-free condition. After more than ten passages, H9 in both groups still successfully maintained the typical hESC morphology and high protein levels of pluripotency markers, SSEA4, Tra1-60, Oct4, Nanog, and ALP. DNA microarray revealed that more than 97% of the 21,448 tested genes, including the pluripotency markers, Sox2, Nanog, Klf4, Lin28A, Lin28B, and Myc, have similar mRNA levels between the two groups. Karyotyping revealed no chromosome abnor-malities in both groups. They also differentiated sufficiently into three germ layers by forming in vitro EBs and in vivo teratomas. There were some variations in the RT-qPCR assay of several plu-ripotency markers. The proliferation rates and the mitochondria of both groups were also different. Taken together, we conclude that hDJ-1 can replace hFGF-2 in maintaining the self-renewal and the pluripotency of hESCs in feeder-free conditions.
- Defined media