Persistent expression of the ATP-binding cassette transporter, Abcg2, identifies cardiac SP cells in the developing and adult heart

Cindy M Martin, Annette P. Meeson, Scott M. Robertson, Thomas J. Hawke, James A. Richardson, Susan Bates, Sean C. Goetsch, Teresa D. Gallardo, Daniel J Garry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

580 Scopus citations


Stem cells are important in the maintenance and repair of adult tissues. A population of cells, termed side population (SP) cells, has stem cell characteristics as they have been shown to contribute to diverse lineages. In this study, we confirm that Abcg2 is a determinant of the SP cell phenotype. Therefore, we examined Abcg2 expression during murine embryogenesis and observed robust expression in the blood islands of the E8.5 yolk sac and in developing tissues including the heart. During the latter stages of embryogenesis, Abcg2 identifies a rare cell population in the developing organs. We further establish that the adult heart contains an Abcg2 expressing SP cell population and these progenitor cells are capable of proliferation and differentiation. We define the molecular signature of cardiac SP cells and compare it to embryonic stem cells and adult cardiomyocytes using emerging technologies. We propose that the cardiac SP cell population functions as a progenitor cell population for the development, maintenance, and repair of the heart.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)262-275
Number of pages14
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Drs. Eric N. Olson, Tom Sato, and Helen Hobbs for helpful discussions throughout these studies and for critically reading the manuscript. We thank J. Shelton, J. Stark, C. Pomjazl, and D. Sutcliffe for assistance with the histological and in situ hybridization analyses and Nan Jiang for her assistance with the FACS analyses. This work was supported by grants from the NIH (AR47850), Muscular Dystrophy Association, Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, March of Dimes Association, and American Heart Association.


  • ATP-binding cassette transporter
  • Abcg2
  • Cardiac SP cells


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