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Dev Biol. 2010 Apr 15;340(2):450-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2010.01.030. Epub 2010 Feb 10.

The role of FGF-signaling in early neural specification of human embryonic stem cells.

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  • 1The Hadassah Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research Center, The Goldyne Savad Institute of Gene Therapy, Hadassah Hebrew University Medical Center, Jerusalem, Israel.

Abstract

The mechanisms that govern human neural specification are not completely characterized. Here we used human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) to study the role of fibroblast growth factor (FGF)-signaling in early human neural specification. Differentiation was obtained by culturing clusters of hESCs in chemically-defined medium. We show that FGF-signaling, which is endogenously active during early differentiation of hESCs, induces early neural specification, while its blockage inhibits neuralization. The early neuralization effect of FGF-signaling is not mediated by promoting the proliferation of existing neural precursors (NPs) or prevention of their apoptosis. The neural instructive effect of FGF-signaling occurs after an initial FGF-independent differentiation into primitive ectoderm-like fate. We further show that FGF-signaling can induce neuralization by a mechanism which is independent of modulating bone morphogenic protein (BMP)-signaling. Still, FGF-signaling is not essential for hESC neuralization which can occur in the absence of FGF and BMP-signaling. Collectively, our data suggest that human neural induction is instructed by FGF-signaling, though neuralization of hESCs can occur in its absence.

Copyright (c) 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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