The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 48: 203 - 206 (2004)

Vol 48, Issue 2-3

Special Issue: Skin Development

Derivation of keratinocyte progenitor cells and skin formation from embryonic stem cells

Published: 1 April 2004

Daniel Aberdam

INSERM U634, Faculté de Médecine de Nice-Sophia Antipolis, Av. Valombrose, 06107 Nice cedex2, France.


Despite numerous elegant transgenic mice experiments, the absence of an appropriate in vitro model system has hampered the study of the early events responsible for epidermal and dermal commitments. Embryonic stem (ES) cells are derived from the pluripotent cells of the early mouse embryo. They can be expanded infinitely in vitro while maintaining their potential to spontaneously differentiate into any cell type of the three germ layers, including epidermal cells. We recently reported that ES cells have the potential to recapitulate the reciprocal instructive ectodermal-mesodermal commitments, which are characteristic of embryonic skin formation. Derivation of epidermal cells from murine ES cells has been successfully established by exposing the cells to precisely controlled instructive influences normally found in the body, including extracellular matrix and the morphogen BMP-4. These differentiated ES cells are able to form, in culture, a multilayered epidermis coupled with an underlying dermal compartment similar to native skin. This bioengineered skin provides a powerful tool for studying the molecular mechanisms controlling skin development and epidermal stem cell properties.


mouse, embryonic stem cell, epidermal lineage, BMP-4, skin, mesenchyme

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