Stage specific embryonic antigen 3

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Stage-specific embryonic antigen 3 (SSEA-3) is a glycosphingolipid, specifically, an oligosaccharide composed of five carbohydrate units connected to a sphingolipid. Sphingolipids were originally discovered in 1884 by John Louis William Thudichum who named them after the Sphinx of Greek mythology in reference to the unresolved riddle of their function.[1] It is now known that sphingolipids function as key players in cell signaling [2] and the SSEA-3 molecule as a whole plays a key role in identifying many types of mammalian cells with pluripotent and stem cell-like characteristics.[3]


  1. ^ Thudichum, John Louis William (1884). A Treatise on the Chemical Constitution of Brain. London: Bailliere, Tindall, and Cox. OCLC 253038666. 
  2. ^ Futerman, AH; Hannun, YA (2004). "The complex life of simple sphingolipids". EMBO Reports. 5 (8): 777–782. PMC 1299119Freely accessible. PMID 15289826. doi:10.1038/sj.embor.7400208. 
  3. ^ Byrne, James (2011-07-01). "A mini-review on stage-specific embryonic antigen 3 (SSEA-3)". eJournal of Cellular Biotechnology. 1:eP3.