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In vitro organogenesis in three dimensions: self-organising stem cells
Yoshiki Sasai, Mototsugu Eiraku, Hidetaka Suga


Organ formation during embryogenesis is a complex process that involves various local cell-cell interactions at the molecular and mechanical levels. Despite this complexity, organogenesis can be modelled in vitro. In this article, we focus on two recent examples in which embryonic stem cells can self-organise into three-dimensional structures – the optic cup and the pituitary epithelium; and one case of self-organising adult stem cells – the gut epithelium. We summarise how these approaches have revealed intrinsic programs that drive locally autonomous modes of organogenesis and homeostasis. We also attempt to interpret the results of previous in vivo studies of retinal development in light of the self-organising nature of the retina.


  • Funding

    The self-organising culture studies of ES cells were supported by the Leading Project for Realization of Regenerative Medicine (Y.S.) and grants-in-aid from Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (Y.S., M.E. and H.S.).

  • Competing interests statement

    The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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