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Pluripotent Stem Cell Studies Elucidate the Underlying Mechanisms of Early Embryonic Development

Laboratory of Molecular Cell Biology, Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 320 Yue Yang Road, Shanghai 200031, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Genes 2011, 2(2), 298-312;
Received: 14 January 2011 / Revised: 8 March 2011 / Accepted: 21 March 2011 / Published: 24 March 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Early Mouse Embryo as a Model Organism for Reprogramming)
PDF [261 KB, uploaded 24 March 2011]


Early embryonic development is a multi-step process that is intensively regulated by various signaling pathways. Because of the complexity of the embryo and the interactions between the germ layers, it is very difficult to fully understand how these signals regulate embryo patterning. Recently, pluripotent stem cell lines derived from different developmental stages have provided an in vitro system for investigating molecular mechanisms regulating cell fate decisions. In this review, we summarize the major functions of the BMP, FGF, Nodal and Wnt signaling pathways, which have well-established roles in vertebrate embryogenesis. Then, we highlight recent studies in pluripotent stem cells that have revealed the stage-specific roles of BMP,FGF and Nodal pathways during neural differentiation. These findings enhance our understanding of the stepwise regulation of embryo patterning by particular signaling pathways and provide new insight into the mechanisms underlying early embryonic development. View Full-Text
Keywords: early embryonic development; BMP; FGF; Nodal; Wnt; ESCs; EpiSCs early embryonic development; BMP; FGF; Nodal; Wnt; ESCs; EpiSCs
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Li, L.; Jing, N. Pluripotent Stem Cell Studies Elucidate the Underlying Mechanisms of Early Embryonic Development. Genes 2011, 2, 298-312.

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