The contribution of Y chromosome genes to spontaneous differentiation of human embryonic stem cells into embryoid bodies in vitro

Simin Nafian Dehkordi, Farzaneh Khani, Seyedeh Nafiseh Hassani, Hossein Baharvand, Hamid Reza Soleimanpour-Lichaei*, Ghasem Hosseini Salekdeh*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)
    13 Downloads (Pure)


    Objective: Sexual dimorphism in mammals can be described as subsequent transcriptional differences from their distinct sex chromosome complements. Following X inactivation in females, the Y chromosome is the major genetic difference between sexes. In this study, we used a male embryonic stem cell line (Royan H6) to identify the potential role of the male-specific region of the Y chromosome (MSY) during spontaneous differentiation into embryoid bodies (EBs) as a model of early embryonic development. 

    Materials and Methods: In this experimental study, RH6 cells were cultured on inactivated feeder layers and Matrigel. In a dynamic suspension system, aggregates were generated in the same size and were spontaneously differentiated into EBs. During differentiation, expression patterns of specific markers for three germ layers were compared with MSY genes. 

    Results: Spontaneous differentiation was determined by downregulation of pluripotent markers and upregulation of fourteen differentiation markers. Upregulation of the ectoderm markers was observed on days 4 and 16, whereas mesoderm markers were upregulated on the 8th day and endodermic markers on days 12-16. Mesoderm markers correlated with 8 MSY genes namely DDX3Y, RPS4Y1, KDM5D, TBL1Y, BCORP1, PRY, DAZ, and AMELY, which were classified as a mesoderm cluster. Endoderm markers were co-expressed with 7 MSY genes, i.e. ZFY, TSPY, PRORY, VCY, EIF1AY, USP9Y, and RPKY, which were grouped as an endoderm cluster. Finally, the ectoderm markers correlated with TXLNGY, NLGN4Y, PCDH11Y, TMSB4Y, UTY, RBMY1, and HSFY genes of the MSY, which were categorized as an ectoderm cluster. In contrast, 2 MSY genes, SRY and TGIF2LY, were more highly expressed in RH6 cells compared to EBs. 

    Conclusion: We found a significant correlation between spontaneous differentiation and upregulation of specific MSY genes. The expression alterations of MSY genes implied the potential responsibility of their gene co-expression clusters for EB differentiation. We suggest that these genes may play important roles in early embryonic development.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)40-50
    Number of pages11
    JournalCell Journal
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • Embryoid bodies
    • Human embryonic stem cells
    • Human Y chromosome proteome project
    • RH6 cell line
    • Spontaneous differentiation


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