Mechanics Regulate Human Embryonic Stem Cell Self-Organization to Specify Mesoderm
73 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2020 Publication Status: Review CompleteMore...
Embryogenesis is directed by morphogens that induce differentiation within a defined tissue geometry. Tissue organization is mediated by cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) adhesions and is modulated by cell tension and tissue-level force. Whether cell tension regulates development by directly influencing morphogen signaling remains unclear. Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) exhibit an intrinsic capacity for self-organization that motivates their use as a tractable model of early human embryogenesis. We engineered patterned substrates that enhance cell-cell interactions to direct the self-organization of cultured hESCs into “gastrulation-like” nodes. Tissue geometries that generate local nodes of high cell-adhesion tension and induce these self-organized tissue nodes drive BMP4-dependent gastrulation by enhancing phosphorylation and nuclear translocation of β-catenin to promote Wnt signaling and mesoderm specification. The findings underscore the interplay between tissue organization, cell tension, and morphogen-dependent differentiation, and demonstrate that cell- and tissue-level forces directly regulate cell fate specification in early human development.
Keywords: Human embryonic stem cells, self-organization, gastrulation, mesoderm, polyacrylamide hydrogels, tissue patterning, cytoskeletal tension, traction force microscopy
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation