Post-Gastrulation Synthetic Embryos Generated Ex Utero from Mouse Naïve ESCs

August, 2022


  • Advanced synthetic embryos (sEmbryos) self-assembled from ESCs in an ex utero setup
  • Naïve ESCs give rise to all embryonic and extra-embryonic compartments in sEmbryos
  • Post-gastrulation stem cell derived sEmbryos develop organ specific progenitors
  • Extra-embryonic compartments adequately develop in post-gastrulation whole sEmbryos


In vitro cultured stem cells with distinct developmental capacities can contribute to embryonic or extra-embryonic tissues after microinjection into pre-implantation mammalian embryos. However, whether cultured stem cells can independently give rise to entire gastrulating embryo-like structures with embryonic and extra-embryonic compartments, remains unknown. Here we adapt a recently established platform for prolonged ex utero growth of natural embryos, to generate mouse post-gastrulation synthetic whole embryo models (sEmbryos), with both embryonic and extra-embryonic compartments, starting solely from naïve ESCs. This was achieved by co-aggregating non-transduced ESCs, with naïve ESCs transiently expressing Cdx2- and Gata4- to promote their priming towards trophectoderm and primitive endoderm lineages, respectively. sEmbryos adequately accomplish gastrulation, advance through key developmental milestones, and develop organ progenitors within complex extra-embryonic compartments similar to E8.5 stage mouse embryos. Our findings highlight the plastic potential of naïve pluripotent cells to self-organize and functionally reconstitute and model the entire mammalian embryo beyond gastrulation.

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