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Reference Icon Redbook Plasmids for Stem Cell Research

Addgene has a wide variety of plasmids for stem cell research. Read Background or Jump to the plasmids.


Stem cells are proliferative, largely unspecialized cells, with the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body during development. In the adult, some perform organ maintenance, dividing essentially without limit to replenish other cells throughout life. Stem cells are also distinguished from other cell types in part because when they divide each new cell has the potential either to remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function.

In addition to pluripotent embryonic and multipotent adult (or somatic) stem cells, which have been studied for over 30 years, scientists have more recently developed methods to return fully-differentiated adult somatic cells to a pluripotent stem cell state referred to as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) via "reprogramming." (View reprogramming plasmids) These iPSCs, much like their ES cell cousins, can give rise to an entire adult organism. Additionally, they can be directly differentiated into specific somatic stem cells or fully differentiated cell types.(View differentiation plasmids)


In some cases it is even possible to directly differentiate one differentiated somatic cell into another via transdifferentiation. (View transdifferentiation plasmids)


Many of the techniques for reprogramming, differentiation and transdifferentiation utilize plasmids carrying one or more genes or their viral product. This guide will help you find plasmids available from Addgene that can be used to do so. For a more general overview of stem cells, their importance and up to date research results visit the NIH Stem Cell information page.

Plasmids used in reprogramming somatic cells into iPS cells

Delivery Method Species Depositing PI Vector Plasmid(s)
Retrovirus Human Kathrin Plath pMXs link
Shinya Yamanaka pMXs link, link
George Daley pMIG link
Juan Belmonte pMSCV link
Nobuaki Kikyo pMXs link
Retrovirus Mouse Shinya Yamanaka pMXs link, link
Steven Dowdy pCX4 link
Hans Schöler pMX link
Nobuaki Kikyo pMXs link
miR - Retrovirus Mouse Duanqing Pei pMXs link
Lentivirus Human Jose Cibelli pSIN4 link
James Thomson pSin / pSin4 link / link
Tim Townes pDL171 link
Rudolf Jaenisch FUW-tetO link, link
Konrad Hochedlinger FU-tetO link
James Ellis PL-Sin link
Lentivirus Mouse Rudolf Jaenisch FUW-tetO link, link
Konrad Hochedlinger pLV-tetO link
Adenovirus Mouse Konrad Hochedlinger pAd link
Episomal Human James Thomson pEP4 link
Shinya Yamanaka pCXLE, pCE link, link*
Episomal Mouse Linzhao Cheng pCEP4 link
non-viral for in-vitro translation Human Derrick Rossi pcDNA3.3 link
non-viral Mouse Keisuke Kaji pCAG link

* efficient, integration free generation of iPSCs from cord and peripheral blood

Find gene-specific plasmids (including reporters and RNAi) at the following links: NANOG, OCT4, SOX2, MYC, KLF4, and LIN28.

Direct Differentiation and Transdifferentiation Plasmids

From → To Delivery Method Species Depositing PI Vector Plasmid(s)
iPSC → Cardiomyocyte Lentiviral Human Sean Palecek pSin link
Fibroblast → Neuron Lentiviral Mouse Marius Wernig Tet-O-FUW link
Fibroblast → Neuron Lentiviral Human Jerry Crabtree pTLemiR link
Fibroblast → Dopaminergic Neuron Lentiviral Human Malin Parmar pCCL link
Fibrblast → Motor Neuron Retroviral Human/Mouse Kevin Eggan pMXs link
Fibroblast → Oligodendrocyte Progenitor Lentiviral Mouse Paul Tesar pLVX link
Fibroblast → Hepatocyte Retroviral Mouse Atsushi Suzuki pGCDNsam link
Pancreatic Exocrine → Beta-cell Adenoviral Mouse Douglas Melton pAd link
Fibroblast → Sertoli Cell Lentiviral Mouse Rudolf Jaenisch FUW-tetO link
Fibroblast → Myocytes non-viral Mouse Andrew Lassar pCSA link
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