Interactions between the endoderm and mesoderm that mediate myocardial induction are difficult to study in vivo because of the small size of mammalian embryos at relevant stages. However, we and others have demonstrated that signals from endodermal cell lines can influence myocardial differentiation from both mouse and human embryoid bodies (EBs), and because of this, assays that utilize embryonic stem (ES) cells and endodermal cell lines provide excellent in vitro models to study early cardiac differentiation. Extraembryonic endoderm (XEN) stem cells have a particular advantage over other heart-inducing cell lines in that they can easily be derived from both wild type and mutant mouse blastocysts. Here we describe the first isolation of a Nodal mutant XEN stem cell line. Nodal-/- XEN cell lines were not isolated at expected Mendelian ratios, and those that were successfully established, showed an increase in markers for the anterior visceral endoderm (AVE). Since AVE represents the heart-inducing endoderm in the mouse, cardiac differentiation was compared in EBs treated with conditioned medium (CM) collected from wild type or Nodal-/- XEN cells. EBs treated with CM from Nodal-/- cells began beating earlier and showed early activation of myocardial genes, but this early cardiac differentiation did not cause an overall increase in cardiomyocyte yield. By comparison, CM from wild type XEN cells both delayed cardiac differentiation and caused a concomitant increase in overall cardiomyocyte formation. Detailed marker analysis suggested that early activation of cardiac differentiation by Nodal-/- XEN CM caused premature differentiation and subsequent depletion of cardiac progenitors.
- Cardiomyocyte differentiation
- Extraembryonic endoderm (XEN) stem cells
- Mouse ES cells