Stem Cell


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0 Q&A 1092 Views Jul 20, 2023

Embryonic development is a complex process integrating cell fate decisions and morphogenesis in a spatiotemporally controlled manner. Previous studies with model organisms laid the foundation of our knowledge on post-implantation development; however, studying mammalian embryos at this stage is a difficult and laborious process. Early attempts to recapitulate mammalian development in vitro begun with embryoid bodies (EBs), in which aggregates of mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) were shown to differentiate into spatially arranged germ layers. A more revised version of EBs, gastruloids, improved the germ layer differentiation efficiency and demonstrated cell fate patterning on multiple axes. However, gastruloids lack anterior neural progenitors that give rise to brain tissues in the embryo. Here, we report a novel culture protocol to coax mESCs into post-implantation epiblast-like (EPI) aggregates in high throughput on bioengineered microwell arrays. We show that upon inhibition of the Wnt signaling pathway, EPI aggregates establish an extended axial patterning, leading to co-derivation of anterior neural progenitors and posterior tissues. Our approach is amenable to large-scale studies aimed at identifying novel regulators of gastrulation and anterior neural development that is currently out of reach with existing embryoid models. This work should contribute to the advancement of the nascent field of synthetic embryology, opening up exciting perspectives for various applications of pluripotent stem cells in disease modeling and tissue engineering.

Key features

• A new gastruloid culture system to model post-implantation mouse embryonic development in vitro

• High-throughput formation of epiblast-like aggregates on hydrogel microwells

• Builds upon conventional gastruloid cultures and provides insight into the role of Wnt signaling for the formation of anterior neural tissues

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 2425 Views Feb 5, 2022

Macrophages are key cells in the innate immune system and play a role in a variety of diseases. However, macrophages are terminally differentiated and difficult to manipulate genetically via transfection or through CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing. To overcome this limitation, we provide a simplified protocol for the generation of mouse embryonic stem cells-derived macrophages (ESDM). Thus, genetic manipulation can be performed using embryonic stem cells, selecting for the desired changes, and finally producing macrophages to study the effects of the previous genetic manipulation. These studies can contribute to many areas of research, including atherosclerosis and inflammation. Production of ESDM has been previously achieved using embryoid body (EB) intermediates. Here, we optimized the EB method using a simplified medium, reducing the number of recombinant proteins and medium recipes required. Our EB-based differentiation protocol consists of three stages: 1) floating EB formation; 2) adherence of EBs and release of floating macrophage progenitors; and, 3) terminal differentiation of harvested macrophage progenitors. The advantages of this protocol include achieving independent floating EBs in stage 1 by using a rocker within the tissue culture incubator, as well as the exclusion of small EBs and cell clusters when harvesting macrophage progenitors via cell filtration.

0 Q&A 3326 Views Nov 5, 2021

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are thought to mediate intercellular communication through the delivery of cargo proteins and RNA to target cells. The uptake of EVs is often followed visually using lipophilic-dyes or fluorescently-tagged proteins to label membrane constituents that are then internalized into recipient cells (Christianson et al., 2013; De Jong et al., 2019). However, these methods do not probe the exposure of EV cargo to intracellular compartments, such as the cytoplasm and nucleus, where protein or RNA molecules could elicit functional changes in recipient cells. In this protocol, we employ an EV cargo protein-APEX fusion to detect proximity interactions with recipient cell cytoplasmic/nuclear targets. This approach results in the biotinylation of proteins in close contact with the reporter fusion and thus permits profiling of biotinylated proteins affinity purified on immobilized streptavidin beads.

Graphic abstract:

Schematic showing three steps of APEX-mediated proximity labeling of proteins in cells targeted by EVs.

0 Q&A 3858 Views Jun 5, 2021

Post-implantation mammalian embryogenesis involves profound molecular, cellular, and morphogenetic changes. The study of these highly dynamic processes is complicated by the limited accessibility of in utero development. In recent years, several complementary in vitro systems comprising self-organized assemblies of mouse embryonic stem cells, such as gastruloids, have been reported. We recently demonstrated that the morphogenetic potential of gastruloids can be further unlocked by the addition of a low percentage of Matrigel as an extracellular matrix surrogate. This resulted in the formation of highly organized trunk-like structures (TLSs) with a neural tube that is frequently flanked by bilateral somites. Notably, development at the molecular and morphogenetic levels is highly reminiscent of the natural embryo. To facilitate access to this powerful model, here we provide a detailed step-by-step protocol that should allow any lab with access to standard cell culture techniques to implement the culture system. This will provide the user with a means to investigate early mid-gestational mouse embryogenesis at an unprecedented spatiotemporal resolution.

0 Q&A 5146 Views Nov 5, 2019
Controlled differentiation of embryonic stem cells is an essential tool in stem cell research. In this protocol, we describe a simple differentiation protocol involving the induction of embryoid body formation in mouse embryonic stem cells (mESC) using hanging droplets, followed by differentiation into a neuronal lineage.
0 Q&A 6780 Views Jun 20, 2018
Retinal degeneration leads to loss of light-sensing photoreceptors eventually resulting in vision impairment and impose a heavy burden on both patients and the society. Currently available treatment options are very limited and mainly palliative. Ever since the discovery of human pluripotent stem cell technologies, cell replacement therapy has become a promising therapeutic strategy for these patients and may help restore visual function. Reproducibly generating enriched retinal cells including retinal progenitors and differentiated retinal neurons such as photoreceptors using human embryonic stem (ES) cells and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells in a dish is an essential first step for developing stem cell-based therapies. In addition, this will provide a reliable and sufficient supply of human retinal cells for studying the mechanisms of diseases. Here we describe a small molecule-based retinal induction protocol that has been used to generate retinal progenitors and differentiated retinal neurons including photoreceptors from several human ES and iPS cell lines. The retinal cells generated by this protocol can survive and functionally integrate into normal and diseased mouse retinas for several months following subretinal transplantation.

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