Jovana Jasnic-Savovic, Andrijana Klajn, Milena Milivojevic, Marija Mojsin and Gordana Nikcevic
Serum is generally regarded as an essential component of many eukaryotic cell culture media, despite the fact that serum composition varies greatly and may be the source of a wide range of artefacts. The objective of this study was to assess serum-free growth conditions for the human embryonal carcinoma cell line, NT2/D1. These cells greatly resemble embryonic stem cells. In the presence of retinoic acid (RA), NT2/D1 cells irreversibly differentiate along the neuronal lineage. We have previously shown that the early phases of neural induction of these cells by RA involve the up-regulation of SOX3 gene expression. Our goal was to compare RA-induced differentiation of NT2/D1 cells in serum-containing and serum-free media, by using SOX3 protein levels as a marker of differentiation. We found that NT2/D1 cells can be successfully grown under serum-free conditions, and that the presence or absence of serum does not affect the level of SOX3 protein after a 48-hour RA induction. However, six days of RA treatment resulted in a marked increase in SOX3 protein levels in serum-free media compared to serum-containing media, indicating that serum might have an inhibitory effect on the expression of this neural differentiation marker. This finding is important for both basic and translational studies that hope to exploit cell culture conditions that are free of animal-derived products.
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