Epiblast stem cells (EpiSCs) are primed pluripotent stem cells and can be derived from postimplantation mouse embryos. We now show that the absence of canonical Wnt/β-catenin signaling is essential for maintenance of the undifferentiated state in mouse EpiSCs and in the epiblast of mouse embryos. Attenuation of Wnt signaling with the small-molecule inhibitor XAV939 or deletion of the β-catenin gene blocked spontaneous differentiation of EpiSCs toward mesoderm and enhanced the expression of pluripotency factor genes, allowing propagation of EpiSCs as a homogeneous population. EpiSCs were efficiently established and propagated from single epiblast cells in the presence of both XAV939 and the Rho kinase (ROCK) inhibitor Y27632. Cell transplantation revealed that EpiSCs were able to contribute to primordial germ cells and descendants of all three germ layers in a host embryo, suggesting that they maintained pluripotency, even after prolonged culture with XAV939. Such an improvement in the homogeneity of pluripotency achieved with the use of a Wnt inhibitor should prove advantageous for manipulation of primed pluripotent stem cells.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes