Identification of deer antler proliferation genes for accelerating the growth of hMSCs

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Deer antlers are fascinating models for mammalian epimorphic appendage regeneration, and their meticulous study could provide insight for addressing the unmet medical need of regenerating skeletal defects and losses. In this study, RNA-Seq was used to compare differentially expressed genes in human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) and fallow deer reserve mesenchyme cells (FDRMCs) under proliferating conditions. Over 40 genes uniquely upregulated in proliferating FDRMCs were identified, and 2 gene candidates—esm1 and has2—were successfully subcloned from FDRMC cDNA. These genes were transfected into mouse mesenchymal fibroblasts to determine if their proliferation rate could be accelerated, as a mouse model for hMSCs. Although the transfection of these candidates into mouse mesenchymal fibroblasts did not result in any change to their doubling time, semi-quantitative non-competitive RT-PCR results suggest that the genes may not have been expressed at high enough levels to cause changes in the cells’ behavior. Additionally, ALP staining conducted on BMP-2 transfected cells confirmed that transfection did not significantly alter the cells’ differentiation behavior. In summary, the developed in vitro methodology developed in this project allowed for the identification of genes involved in FDRMC proliferation separately from other antler growth-related processes, and this work opens future avenues for investigating the successful expression of subcloned FDRMC genes for the acceleration of hMSC growth.


Type of resource text
Date created June 4, 2014


Author Sharma, Rashmi
Primary advisor Yang, Yunzhi Peter
Advisor Ker, Elmer
Degree granting institution Stanford University. Department of Bioengineering.


Subject hMSC
Subject proliferation
Subject RNA-Seq
Subject deer antlers
Subject tissue engineering
Subject bone regeneration
Genre Thesis

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).

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Sharma, Rashmi (2014). Identification of deer antler proliferation genes for accelerating the growth of hMSCs. Stanford Digital Repository. Available at:


Undergraduate Theses, School of Engineering

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