A synthetic nanofibrillar matrix promotes in vitro hepatic differentiation of embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells

Taiji Yamazoe, Nobuaki Shiraki, Masashi Toyoda, Nobutaka Kiyokawa, Hajime Okita, Yoshitaka Miyagawa, Hidenori Akutsu, Akihiro Umezawa, Yutaka Sasaki, Kazuhiko Kume, Shoen Kume

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Embryonic stem (ES) cells recapitulate normal developmental processes and serve as an attractive source for routine access to a large number of cells for research and therapies. We previously reported that ES cells cultured on M15 cells, or a synthesized basement membrane (sBM) substratum, efficiently differentiated into an endodermal fate and subsequently adopted fates of various digestive organs, such as the pancreas and liver. Here, we established a novel hepatic differentiation procedure using the synthetic nanofiber (sNF) as a cell culture scaffold. We first compared endoderm induction and hepatic differentiation between murine ES cells grown on sNF and several other substrata. The functional assays for hepatocytes reveal that the ES cells grown on sNF were directed into hepatic differentiation. To clarify the mechanisms for the promotion of ES cell differentiation in the sNF system, we focused on the function of Rac1, which is a Rho family member protein known to regulate the actin cytoskeleton. We observed the activation of Rac1 in undifferentiated and differentiated ES cells cultured on sNF plates, but not in those cultured on normal plastic plates. We also show that inhibition of Rac1 blocked the potentiating effects of sNF on endoderm and hepatic differentiation throughout the whole differentiation stages. Taken together, our results suggest that morphological changes result in cellular differentiation controlled by Rac1 activation, and that motility is not only the consequence, but is also able to trigger differentiation. In conclusion, we believe that sNF is a promising material that might contribute to tissue engineering and drug delivery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5391-5399
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Dec 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Embryonic stem cells
  • Hepatic differentiation
  • In vitro differentiation
  • Induced pluripotent stem cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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