Insights from a chimpanzee adipose stromal cell population: opportunities for adult stem cells to expand primate functional genomics.
Comparisons between humans and chimpanzees are essential for understanding traits unique to each species. However, linking important phenotypic differences to underlying molecular changes is often challenging. The ability to generate, differentiate, and profile adult stem cells provides a powerful but underutilized opportunity to investigate the molecular basis for trait differences between species within specific cell types and in a controlled environment. Here, we characterize adipose stromal cells (ASCs) from Clint, the chimpanzee whose genome was first sequenced. Using imaging and RNA-Seq, we compare the chimpanzee ASCs with three comparable human cell lines. Consistent with previous studies on ASCs in humans, the chimpanzee cells have fibroblast-like morphology and express genes encoding components of the extracellular matrix at high levels. Differentially expressed genes are enriched for distinct functional classes between species: immunity and protein processing are higher in chimpanzees, whereas cell cycle and DNA processing are higher in humans. Although hesitant to draw definitive conclusions from these data given the limited sample size, we wish to stress the opportunities that adult stem cells offer for studying primate evolution. In particular, adult stem cells provide a powerful means to investigate the profound disease susceptibilities unique to humans and a promising tool for conservation efforts with nonhuman primates. By allowing for experimental perturbations in relevant cell types, adult stem cells promise to complement classic comparative primate genomics based on in vivo sampling.
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Pubmed Central ID
Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)