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J Biol Chem. 2007 Oct 26;282(43):31703-12. Epub 2007 Aug 21.

Generation of multipotential mesendodermal progenitors from mouse embryonic stem cells via sustained Wnt pathway activation.

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  • 1Stem Cell and Developmental Biology, Genome Institute of Singapore, 60 Biopolis St., Genome #02-01, Singapore 138672. bakre@gis.a-star.edu.sg


Pluripotent embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are capable of differentiating into cell types belonging to all three germ layers within the body, which makes them an interesting and intense field of research. Inefficient specific differentiation and contamination with unwanted cell types are the major issues in the use of ESCs in regenerative medicine. Lineage-specific progenitors generated from ESCs could be utilized to circumvent the issue. We demonstrate here that sustained activation of the Wnt pathway (using Wnt3A or an inhibitor of glycogen synthase kinase 3beta) in multiple mouse and human ESCs results in meso/endoderm-specific differentiation. Using monolayer culture conditions, we have generated multipotential "mesendodermal progenitor clones" (MPC) from mouse ESCs by sustained Wnt pathway activation. MPCs express increased levels of meso/endodermal and mesendodermal markers and exhibit a stable phenotype in culture over a year. The MPCs have enhanced potential to differentiate along endothelial, cardiac, vascular smooth muscle, and skeletal lineages than undifferentiated ESCs. In conclusion, we demonstrate that the Wnt pathway activation can be utilized to generate lineage-specific progenitors from ESCs, which can be further differentiated into desired organ-specific cells.

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