Rotary suspension culture enhances mesendoderm differentiation of embryonic stem cells through modulation of Wnt/β-catenin pathway

Stem Cell Rev Rep. 2014 Aug;10(4):526-38. doi: 10.1007/s12015-014-9511-6.


Recently, physical factors in the local cellular microenvironment have been confirmed with strong influences on regulating stem cell fate. Despite the recent identification of the rotary cell culture system (RCCS) as a bioreactor for culturing stem cells, the underlying biological role provided by RCCS in the lineage differentiation of embryonic stem cells (ESCs) remains largely undefined. Here, we explored the embryoid body (EB) formation and subsequent differentiation of mouse ESCs in RCCS. We demonstrated that EBs formed in RCCS were more homogeneous and bigger in size compared with those in the static condition. Further, we determined that mesendoderm differentiation was prominently enhanced, while neuroectodermal differentiation was significantly suppressed in RCCS. Surprisingly, we found that Wnt/β-catenin signaling was greatly enhanced mainly due to the increased expression of Wnt3 during ESC differentiation in RCCS. Inhibition of Wnt/β-catenin signaling by DKK1 decreased the expression of Brachyury and attenuated mesendoderm differentiation in RCCS. Intriguingly, Wnt3a markedly increased Brachyury expression under static condition rather than in RCCS. Taken together, our findings uncover a new role of rotary suspension culture in initializing the early differentiation of ESCs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods*
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Embryoid Bodies / cytology
  • Embryoid Bodies / metabolism
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Endoderm / cytology*
  • Endoderm / metabolism
  • Fetal Proteins / genetics
  • Fetal Proteins / metabolism
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Mesoderm / cytology*
  • Mesoderm / metabolism
  • Mice
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • T-Box Domain Proteins / genetics
  • T-Box Domain Proteins / metabolism
  • Wnt Proteins / genetics
  • Wnt Proteins / metabolism*
  • beta Catenin / genetics
  • beta Catenin / metabolism*


  • Fetal Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • T-Box Domain Proteins
  • Wnt Proteins
  • beta Catenin
  • Brachyury protein