Epithelial disruption drives mesendoderm differentiation in human pluripotent stem cells by enabling TGF-β protein sensing

Nom de la revue
Nature Communications
Thomas Legier, Diane Rattier, Jack Llewellyn, Thomas Vannier, Benoit Sorre, Flavio Maina, Rosanna Dono

AbstractThe processes of primitive streak formation and fate specification in the mammalian epiblast rely on complex interactions between morphogens and tissue organization. Little is known about how these instructive cues functionally interact to regulate gastrulation. We interrogated the interplay between tissue organization and morphogens by using human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) downregulated for the morphogen regulator GLYPICAN-4, in which defects in tight junctions result in areas of disrupted epithelial integrity. Remarkably, this phenotype does not affect hiPSC stemness, but impacts on cell fate acquisition. Strikingly, cells within disrupted areas become competent to perceive the gastrulation signals BMP4 and ACTIVIN A, an in vitro surrogate for NODAL, and thus differentiate into mesendoderm. Yet, disruption of epithelial integrity sustains activation of BMP4 and ACTIVIN A downstream effectors and correlates with enhanced hiPSC endoderm/mesoderm differentiation. Altogether, our results disclose epithelial integrity as a key determinant of TGF-β activity and highlight an additional mechanism guiding morphogen sensing and spatial cell fate change within an epithelium.