Stem cells: Keeping differentiation in check

Researchers at the A*STAR Institute of Medical Biology (IMB) have discovered a critical checkpoint protein that controls when human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) begin to differentiate.


In all bilaterian animals, the mesoderm is one of the three primary germ cell layers in the very early embryo. The other two layers are the ectoderm (outside layer) and endoderm (inside layer), with the mesoderm as the middle layer between them.

The mesoderm forms mesenchyme (connective tissue), mesothelium, non-epithelial blood corpuscles and coelomocytes. Mesothelium lines coeloms; forms the muscles, septa (cross-wise partitions) and mesenteries (length-wise partitions); and forms part of the gonads (the rest being the gametes).

The mesoderm differentiates from the rest of the embryo through intercellular signaling, after which the mesoderm is polarized by an organizing center.

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