Date of Completion

Spring 5-9-2010

Thesis Advisor(s)

David Goldhamer

Honors Major

Cell Biology


Cell Biology | Developmental Biology | Life Sciences | Molecular Biology


Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) have the potential to

differentiate to all adult somatic cells. This property makes hESCs a very promising area of research for the treatment of disorders in which specific cell populations need to be restored. Despite this potential, research that focuses on producing mesodermally derived cell populations from hESCs is decidedly limited, notwithstanding the prevalence of disorders involving mesodermal tissues for which treatment options are limited. Skeletal muscle myoblasts are derivatives of mesodermal cells and are characterized by the expression of the MyoD gene. These cells are difficult to obtain from hESCs in a reproducible and efficient manner.

Recent developments in the field have showed some success in obtaining myogenic cells from hESCs through a mesenchymal stem cell (MSC)-like intermediate population. MSCs, which are an adult stem cell population typically derived from the bone marrow, are capable of generating multiple cell types including skeletal muscle. The aim of this study was to develop an efficient method that derives myoblasts from an MSC-like intermediate.

To accomplish this goal, we first set out to isolate and expand the MSC-like intermediate from hESCs differentiated in vitro. Difficulties in reproducing published cell-differentiation methodologies, which represent a significant and familiar challenge in hESC research, are highlighted in this report.