Highlight Seminar: Bottom-Up Synthetic Embryology for Understanding Early Human Development

Fri, Oct 16, 2020, 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Early human development remains mysterious and very difficult to study. Recent advances in mammalian embryology, stem cell biology, organoid technology, and bioengineering have contributed to a significant interest in bottom-up, synthetic stem cell-derived models of human development (or embryoids). The scalability and controllability of human embryoids coupled with the ease of genetically modifying stem cell lines, the ability to manipulate culture conditions and the simplicity of live imaging make them robust and attractive systems to disentangle cellular behaviors and signaling interactions that drive human embryogenesis. In this talk, I will describe our effort in using human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) to develop tractable experimental models of the peri-implantation embryonic development and neurulation. The peri-implantation human embryoids developed by us recapitulate key early post-implantation developmental landmarks successively, including pro-amniotic cavity formation, amniotic ectoderm-epiblast patterning, primordial germ cell specification, and development of the primitive streak with controlled anteroposterior polarity. I will further discuss an hPSC-based neuroectoderm patterning model to recapitulate the formation of the neural plate and another patterned neural tube model with fully defined anterior-posterior and dorsal-ventral axes.