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Position-dependent plasticity of distinct progenitor types in the primitive streak

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Original languageEnglish
Article numbere10042
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2016


The rostrocaudal (head-to-tail) axis is supplied by populations of progenitors at the caudal end of the embryo. Despite recent advances characterising one of these populations, the neuromesodermal progenitors, their nature and relationship to other populations remains unclear. Here we show that neuromesodermal progenitors are a single Sox2(low)T(low) entity whose choice of neural or mesodermal fate is dictated by their position in the progenitor region. The choice of mesoderm fate is Wnt/β-catenin dependent. Wnt/β-catenin signalling is also required for a previously unrecognised phase of progenitor expansion during mid-trunk formation. Lateral/ventral mesoderm progenitors represent a distinct committed state that is unable to differentiate to neural fates, even upon overexpression of the neural transcription factor Sox2. They do not require Wnt/β-catenin signalling for mesoderm differentiation. This information aids the correct interpretation of in vivo genetic studies and the development of in vitro protocols for generating physiologically-relevant cell populations of clinical interest.

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