During embryonic development, oral ectoderm differentiates into the adenohypophysis, dental epithelia, salivary glands, and nasal pit. Few reports exist concerning the induction of oral ectoderm from embryonic stem (ES) cells. Generally, any lot differences in fetal bovine serum (FBS) and serum replacer may affect the induction of ES cell-differentiation. Using a previously established culture strategy for differentiation, the proportion of cell aggregates containing Pitx1. + oral ectoderm varied widely between 9-36% when several different lots of FBS or serum replacer were used. We therefore tried to enhance the differentiation method. We found that bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) 4 and fibroblast growth factor (FGF) treatments improved oral ectoderm induction. Such treatment also improved the differentiation of oral ectoderm into the adenohypophysis. Furthermore, increased BMP4 treatment induced dental epithelium and mesenchyme. Such differentiation suggests that the Pitx1. + layer displays similar properties to oral ectoderm, as found in vivo. Differentiation of ES cells into oral ectoderm using different lots of FBS and serum replacer increased 78-90% after treatment with BMP4 and FGF. In summary, we have established a robust strategy for the induction of oral ectoderm differentiation from mouse ES cells.
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