Int. J. Dev. Biol. 54: 113 - 124 (2010)
doi: 10.1387/ijdb.082704as
© UPV/EHU Press

Pluripotency of bank vole embryonic cells depends on FGF2 and activin A signaling pathways

Aneta Suwinska1, Andrzej K. Tarkowski1 and Maria A. Ciemerych*,2

1Department of Embryology and 2Department of Cytology, Institute of Zoology, University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland

ABSTRACT The objective of this study was to investigate the capability of bank vole (Myodes glareolus) embryonic cells to sustain their pluripotent character during in vitro culture, and to determine the optimal conditions for derivation of embryonic stem (ES) cells. We compared the presence of specific pluripotency (Oct4, Ssea1) and differentiation markers (Gata4 - primitive endoderm marker; Cdx2 - trophectoderm marker) in blastocysts and inner cell mass (ICM) outgrowths obtained from blastocysts of bank vole, and two mouse hybrids F1(C57Bl/6xCBA/H) and F1(C57Bl/6x129/Sv), which differ in the permissiveness of giving rise to ES cells. We found that, in contrast to mouse, the expression of pluripotency markers in the cells of bank vole ICM outgrowths is progressively downregulated and rapidly lost by the 4th day of culture. This correlates with the appearance of cells expressing Gata4 and Cdx2, indicating differentiation towards primitive endoderm and derivatives of trophectoderm, respectively. We have also shown that heterologous cytokine leukaemia inhibitory factor (LIF) in conjunction with either homologous or heterologous feeder layer is unable to delay differentiation and preserve pluripotency of bank vole embryonic cells. Thus, the conditions optimised for mouse do not support the maintenance of bank vole embryonic cells in the undifferentiated state and do not allow for the isolation of the ES cells. Instead, combination of fibroblast growth factor 2 and activin A allows retention of Oct4 expression in bank vole blastocyst outgrowths during 4-day culture, indicating that signaling pathways operating in human, rather than mouse ES cells, might be involved in the process of self-renewal of bank vole embryonic cells.


bank vole, mouse, blastocyst, pluripotency, Oct4, differentiation marker

*Corresponding author e-mail: