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Investigating insulin

Jonathan B Weitzman

Genome Biology 2003, 4:spotlight-20030121-01  doi:10.1186/gb-spotlight-20030121-01

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published:21 January 2003

© 2003 BioMed Central Ltd

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Previous studies showed that adult or embryonic stem (ES) cells can differentiate in vitro to form insulin-containing, islet-like structures. In the January 17 Science Rajagopal et al. add a note of caution to the interpretation of such insulin-staining experiments (Science 2003, 299:363). ES cells could differentiate into clusters of cells that are recognized by an antibody against insulin, but Rajagopal et al. were alarmed that they could not detect any insulin mRNA. Furthermore, ES cells expressing green fluorescence protein from an insulin promoter did not glow green. Insulin staining was in fact lost when ES cells were cultured in insulin-deficient media, and direct evidence for insulin uptake was provided by using fluorescently conjugated insulin in the medium. Thus, insulin immunoreactivity is insufficient evidence for beta cell differentiation.


  1. Differentiation of embryonic stem cells to insulin-secreting structures similar to pancreatic islets.

    PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text OpenURL

  2. [] webcite