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Stem Cell Res. 2011 May;6(3):262-75. doi: 10.1016/j.scr.2011.02.003. Epub 2011 Feb 27.

Activation of FGFR(IIIc) isoforms promotes activin-induced mesendoderm development in mouse embryonic stem cells and reduces Sox17 coexpression in EpCAM+ cells.

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  • 1Department of Stem Cell Biology, Hagedorn Research Institute, Niels Steensens Vej 6, DK-2820 Gentofte, Denmark.


Activin induces the formation of definitive endoderm from mouse ES cells dependent on active fibroblast growth factor (Fgf) signaling. Here we report that Fgf4 is dispensable for activin A-induced differentiation of mouse ES cells into endoderm. We find that Fgf4(-/-) cells readily differentiate into definitive endoderm without exogenous administration of Fgf4. Additionally, we investigate the spatio-temporal dynamics of Fgf receptor (FGFR) isoform distribution in activin A-treated ES cell cultures and find that FGFR(III)c isoforms are expressed in DE as well as non-DE populations, whereas FGFR2(III)b and FGFR4 are found specifically enriched in the DE fraction. Ligands that preferentially activate the FGFR(III)c isoforms induce mesendoderm markers T and Gsc, but reduce expression of the DE marker Sox17 in activin-induced EpCAM(+) cells. In contrast, ligands specifically activating FGFR(III)b isoforms have no effect on either population. Activation of FGFR(III)c isoforms results in a strong mitogenic effect on activin A-induced ES cell progeny early in the differentiation period whereas activation of FGFR(III)b isoforms has only a moderate mitogenic effect confined to the late differentiation period. We conclude that FGFR(III)c-isoform activation selectively drives the differentiation of mES cells toward mesendoderm and that Fgf4 is dispensable for the differentiation into definitive endoderm.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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