Send to

Choose Destination
Open Biol. 2013 Apr 10;3(4):120167. doi: 10.1098/rsob.120167.

Multiple roles of Activin/Nodal, bone morphogenetic protein, fibroblast growth factor and Wnt/β-catenin signalling in the anterior neural patterning of adherent human embryonic stem cell cultures.

Author information

Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3DY, UK.


Several studies have successfully produced a variety of neural cell types from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), but there has been limited systematic analysis of how different regional identities are established using well-defined differentiation conditions. We have used adherent, chemically defined cultures to analyse the roles of Activin/Nodal, bone morphogenetic protein (BMP), fibroblast growth factor (FGF) and Wnt/β-catenin signalling in neural induction, anteroposterior patterning and eye field specification in hESCs. We show that either BMP inhibition or activation of FGF signalling is required for effective neural induction, but these two pathways have distinct outcomes on rostrocaudal patterning. While BMP inhibition leads to specification of forebrain/midbrain positional identities, FGF-dependent neural induction is associated with strong posteriorization towards hindbrain/spinal cord fates. We also demonstrate that Wnt/β-catenin signalling is activated during neural induction and promotes acquisition of neural fates posterior to forebrain. Therefore, inhibition of this pathway is needed for efficient forebrain specification. Finally, we provide evidence that the levels of Activin/Nodal and BMP signalling have a marked influence on further forebrain patterning and that constitutive inhibition of these pathways represses expression of eye field genes. These results show that the key mechanisms controlling neural patterning in model vertebrate species are preserved in adherent, chemically defined hESC cultures and reveal new insights into the signals regulating eye field specification.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center