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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Initiation of hematopoiesis and vasculogenesis in murine yolk sac explants.

The blood islands of the visceral yolk sac (VYS) are the initial sites of hematopoiesis in mammals. We have developed a yolk sac explant culture system to study the process of blood cell and endothelial cell development from extraembryonic mesoderm cells. No benzidine-positive cells or beta H1-globin mRNA expression was detected at the primitive streak or neural plate stage of development (E7.5). However, when isolated E7.5 dissected tissues were cultured for 36 to 72 hours in serum-free medium, hundreds of hemoglobin-producing cells and embryonic globin gene expression were identified in both intact yolk sac and VYS mesoderm explants. Explanted E7.5 extraembryonic mesoderm tissues thus recapitulate in vivo primitive erythropoiesis and do not require the presence of a vascular network or the VYS endoderm. Yolk sac blood islands also contain endothelial cells that arise by vasculogenesis and express flk-1. We detected flk-1 mRNA as early as the primitive streak stage of mouse embryogenesis. Culture of embryo proper and intact VYS explants, which contain both mesoderm and endoderm cells, produced capillary networks and expressed flk-1. In contrast, vascular networks were not seen when VYS mesoderm was cultured alone, although flk-1 expression was similar to that of intact VYS explants. The addition of vascular endothelial growth factor to VYS mesoderm explants did not induce vascular network formation. These results suggest that the VYS endoderm or its extracellular matrix is necessary for the coalescence of developing endothelial cells into capillary networks.[1]


  1. Initiation of hematopoiesis and vasculogenesis in murine yolk sac explants. Palis, J., McGrath, K.E., Kingsley, P.D. Blood (1995) [Pubmed]
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