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J Cell Biol. 2004 Sep 27;166(7):1093-102.

Conversion of ES cells to columnar epithelia by hensin and to squamous epithelia by laminin.

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  • 1Dept. of Medicine, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, 630 West 168th Street, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Single-layered epithelia are the first differentiated cell types to develop in the embryo, with columnar and squamous types appearing immediately after blastocyst implantation. Here, we show that mouse embryonic stem cells seeded on hensin or laminin, but not fibronectin or collagen type IV, formed hemispheric epithelial structures whose outermost layer terminally differentiated to an epithelium that resembled the visceral endoderm. Hensin induced columnar epithelia, whereas laminin formed squamous epithelia. At the egg cylinder stage, the distal visceral endoderm is columnar, and these cells begin to migrate anteriorly to create the anterior visceral endoderm, which assumes a squamous shape. Hensin expression coincided with the dynamic appearance and disappearance of columnar cells at the egg cylinder stage of the embryo. These expression patterns, and the fact that hensin null embryos (and those already reported for laminin) die at the onset of egg cylinder formation, support the view that hensin and laminin are required for terminal differentiation of columnar and squamous epithelial phenotypes during early embryogenesis.

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