Generation of structures formed by lens and retinal cells differentiating from embryonic stem cells

Dev Dyn. 2003 Dec;228(4):664-71. doi: 10.1002/dvdy.10425.


Embryonic stem cells have the potential to give rise to all cell lineages when introduced into the early embryo. They also give rise to a limited number of different cell types in vitro in specialized culture systems. In this study, we established a culture system in which a structure consisting of lens, neural retina, and pigmented retina was efficiently induced from embryonic stem cells. Refractile cell masses containing lens and neural retina were surrounded by retinal pigment epithelium layers and, thus, designated as eye-like structures. Developmental processes required for eye development appear to proceed in this culture system, because the formation of the eye-like structures depended on the expression of Pax6, a key transcription factor for eye development. The present culture system opens up the possibility of examining early stages of eye development and also of producing cells for use in cellular therapy for various diseases of the eye.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Line
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Embryo, Mammalian / cytology*
  • Eye Proteins
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins / physiology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lens, Crystalline / embryology*
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • PAX6 Transcription Factor
  • Paired Box Transcription Factors
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Retina / embryology*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Time Factors


  • Eye Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • PAX6 Transcription Factor
  • Paired Box Transcription Factors
  • Pax6 protein, mouse
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins