DOI: 10.1101/518803Jan 11, 2019Paper

A novel self-organizing embryonic stem cell system reveals signaling logic underlying the patterning of human ectoderm

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
George BrittonAryeh Warmflash


During development, the ectoderm is patterned by a combination of BMP and WNT signaling. Research in model organisms has provided substantial insight, however, there are currently no systems to study this patterning in humans. Further, the complexity of neural plate border specification has made it difficult to transition from discovering the genes involved to deeper mechanistic understanding. Here, we develop an in vitro model of human ectodermal patterning, in which hESCs self-organize to form robust and quantitatively reproducible patterns corresponding to the dorsal-ventral axis of the embryo. Using this platform, we show that the duration of endogenous WNT signaling is a crucial control parameter, and that cells sense relative levels of BMP and WNT signaling in making fate decisions. These insights allowed us to develop an improved protocol for placodal differentiation. Thus, our platform is a powerful tool for studying human ectoderm patterning and for improving directed differentiation protocols.

Related Concepts

Cell Differentiation Process
Bone Morphogenetic Proteins
Human Embryonic Stem Cells
Wnt Signaling Pathway

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