Behind the developing brains and beating hearts of stem cell-derived embryo models.
Studies over the past decade have shown how stem cells representing embryonic and extra-embryonic tissues of the mouse can self-assemble in the culture dish to recapitulate an astonishing part of early embryonic development. A systematic analysis has demonstrated how pluripotent embryonic stem cells can be induced to behave like the implanting epiblast; how they can interact with trophectoderm stem cells to form a patterned structure resembling the implanting embryo prior to gastrulation; and how the third stem cell type-extra-embryonic endoderm cells-can be incorporated to generate structures that undergo the cell movements and gene expression patterns of gastrulation. Moreover, such stem cell-derived embryo models can proceed to neurulation and establish progenitors for all parts of the brain and neural tube, somites, beating heart structures and gut tube. They develop within extra-embryonic yolk sacs that initiate haematopoiesis. Here we trace this journey of discovery.
Peer reviewed: True