The study of early human development is of great importance but has been limited by the lack of suitable reagents. Recently, however, the human embryonal carcinoma (EC) cell line NT2D1 has been isolated. This cell line will differentiate upon exposure to retinoic acid (RA). A cDNA library was constructed from poly(A)+ RNA derived from NT2D1 cells treated with 10(−5) M-RA for 7 days (delta NT2D1 cells). By differential cDNA screening, it was found that 1.12% of delta NT2D1 cDNA recombinants screened detected an increase in signal with 32P-cDNAs derived from delta NT2D1 as compared with NT2D1. To compare RA-induced differentiation of mouse and human EC cells, the delta NT2D1 cDNA library was rescreened with 32P-cDNAs derived from the mouse EC cell line F9 and the result compared with 32P-cDNA derived from F9 differentiated to parietalendoderm (F9PE)-like cells and visceral-endoderm (F9VE)-like cells. Approximately 1.2% of the delta NT2D1 cDNA recombinants detected a differential increase in signal following differentiation of mouse EC cells to F9VE and/or F9PE. Of these homologous regulated sequences, 0.3% were common to both mouse and human EC cell RA-induced differentiation. Five different cDNA clones were isolated that detect a marked increase (5- to 75-fold) in mRNA abundance following RA-induced differentiation of NT2D1. Of these five clones, three detect homologous mRNAs which also increase in abundance following differentiation of the mouse EC cell line F9 to PE- and/or VE-like cells; the other two clones do not detect sequences in the mouse mRNAs tested. One clone shows homology to SPARC, a gene known to be regulated during mouse embryonic development. While another clone, SO5A, has a limited range of expression, being detected in F9VE and in a human parietal-endoderm-like cell, but not in F9PE and a human visceral-endoderm-like cell. This work shows that there are both similarities and differences in mouse and human EC cell differentiation, and these cDNA clones provide some of the first reagents for studying the molecular biology of human development.

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