Abstract: Directed differentiation of pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) is a powerful model system for deconstructing embryonic development. Although mice are the most advanced mammalian model system for genetic studies of embryonic development, state-of-the-art protocols for directed differentiation of mouse PSCs into defined lineages tend to be slower and generate target cell types with lower purity than analogous protocols for human PSCs, limiting their application as models for mechanistic studies of development. Here, we examine the potential of mouse epiblast stem cells (EpiSCs) cultured in media containing Wnt pathway inhibitors (primed ground state conditions) as a starting point for directed differentiation. As a proof-of-concept, we focused our efforts on two specific cell/tissue types that have proven difficult to generate efficiently and reproducibly from mouse embryonic stem cells: definitive endoderm and neural organoids. First, we developed a new protocol that can rapidly generate nearly pure definitive endoderm from EpiSCs. Second, we developed a protocol for generating forebrain organoids that model the development of prethalamic and hippocampal neurons. These significantly improved differentiation models present new possibilities for combining mouse genetic tools and resources with in vitro differentiation to characterize the molecular and cellular mechanisms of embryonic development.

Journal Link: 10.1101/2021.12.07.471652 Journal Link: Publisher Website Journal Link: Download PDF Journal Link: Google Scholar