Primitive endoderm differentiation: from specification to epithelium formation

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2014 Dec 5;369(1657):20130537. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2013.0537.


In amniotes, primitive endoderm (PrE) plays important roles not only for nutrient support but also as an inductive tissue required for embryo patterning. PrE is an epithelial monolayer that is visible shortly before embryo implantation and is one of the first three cell lineages produced by the embryo. We review here the molecular mechanisms that have been uncovered during the past 10 years on PrE and epiblast cell lineage specification within the inner cell mass of the blastocyst and on their subsequent steps of differentiation.

Keywords: blastocyst; cell differentiation; cell polarization; cell sorting; epithelium; lineage specification.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blastocyst / cytology*
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Cell Lineage / physiology*
  • Embryonic Development / physiology*
  • Endoderm / cytology
  • Endoderm / embryology*
  • Epithelium / embryology*
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 4 / metabolism
  • Gene Dosage / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / physiology*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / physiology
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological
  • Nanog Homeobox Protein


  • Fgf4 protein, mouse
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 4
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Nanog Homeobox Protein
  • Nanog protein, mouse