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In vitro organogenesis using multipotent cells

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The establishment of efficient methods for promoting stem cell differentiation into target cells is important not only in regenerative medicine, but also in drug discovery. In addition to embryonic stem (ES) cells and various somatic stem cells, such as mesenchymal stem cells derived from bone marrow, adipose tissue, and umbilical cord blood, a novel dedifferentiation technology that allows the generation of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells has been recently developed. Although an increasing number of stem cell populations are being described, there remains a lack of protocols for driving the differentiation of these cells. Regeneration of organs from stem cells in vitro requires precise blueprints for each differentiation step. To date, studies using various model organisms, such as zebrafish, Xenopus laevis, and gene-targeted mice, have uncovered several factors that are critical for the development of organs. We have been using X. laevis, the African clawed frog, which has developmental patterns similar to those seen in humans. Moreover, Xenopus embryos are excellent research tools for the development of differentiation protocols, since they are available in high numbers and are sufficiently large and robust for culturing after simple microsurgery. In addition, Xenopus eggs are fertilized externally, and all stages of the embryo are easily accessible, making it relatively easy to study the functions of individual gene products during organogenesis using microinjection into embryonic cells. In the present review, we provide examples of methods for in vitro organ formation that use undifferentiated Xenopus cells. We also describe the application of amphibian differentiation protocols to mammalian stem cells, so as to facilitate the development of efficient methodologies for in vitro differentiation.
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Keywords: Xenopus; animal cap; embryonic stem cell; organogenesis

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: 1: Organ Development Research Laboratory, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Tsukuba, Ibaraki, 2: Department of Life Sciences (Biology), Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Meguro-ku, Tokyo, Japan

Publication date: February 1, 2010

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