Preferential differentiation toward cholangiocytic fates occurred under conditions of higher rigidity (and higher levels of CS-PGs), whereas less rigidity and higher levels of HS-PGs or HP-PGs
correlated with differentiation toward hepatocytic fates. The effects of CS-PGs versus HS-PGs are assumed to be due to their distinctions in growth factor binding. The relevance of mechanical forces on differentiation is now the focus of ongoing experiments. Although the data presented here emphasize the role of the changes in the matrix chemistry along with certain known soluble signals, we have identified more than a dozen other soluble signals that change qualitatively and quantitatively with differentiation (J. Uronis and L. Reid, unpublished data, 2010). Matrix molecules such as proteoglycans PF-02341066 nmr and especially RAD001 nmr HS-PGs and HP-PGs have many growth factor–binding sites that determine growth factor storage, release, conformation,
stability, and affinities for specific receptors as well as other aspects of the signal transduction processes. Therefore, completion of the ongoing studies seeking to define the lineage-dependent, soluble paracrine signals should allow future studies on mechanisms by which paracrine signaling, involving synergies between the soluble signals and the matrix components, dictates the cell responses. In summary, the interdependency of parenchymal cells and their mesenchymal companions is a stringent constraint on stem cell and maturational lineage biology, and it has been mimicked by the use of feeders. The uniformity of the
cell population within a feeder cell line facilitates the analyses of cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions but ignores that mesenchymal cells mature coordinately with epithelia. This maturation is associated with changes in the paracrine signaling. In addition, feeder cell lines stably maintained in an animal serum have muted effects with respect to those kept serum-free and are barriers for clinical programs and commercial and research applications because of concerns about unidentified factors and pathogens in the serum. Thus, the identification of the matrix and soluble signals that control the fate of stem cells is critical for translating the use of normal cells into the realms of reproducibility and effectiveness. Amobarbital Our success in generating cultures of stem cells with specific biological fates is possible because of the use of specific paracrine signals (both matrix and soluble) and the recognition that serum has to be eliminated to the extent possible. In addition, the ability to generate reproducibly uniform cultures of liver parenchymal cells maintained at a precise maturational lineage stage represents an important step for the development of safe stem cell–based therapy and drug development as well as model systems for analyzing development.