Embryo liver morphogenesis takes place after gastrulation and starts with a ventral foregut evagination that reacts to factor signaling from both cardiac mesoderm and septum transversum mesenchyme. Current knowledge of the progenitor stem cell populations involved in this early embryo liver development is scarce. We describe here a population of 11-day postcoitus c-Kitlow(CD45/TER119)– liver progenitors that selectively expressed hepatospecific genes and proteins in vivo, was self-maintained in vitro by long-term proliferation, and simultaneously differentiated into functional hepatocytes and bile duct cells. Purified c-Kitlow(CD45/TER119)– liver cells cocultured with cell-depleted fetal liver fragments engrafted and repopulated the hepatic cell compartments of the latter organoids, suggesting that they may include the embryonic stem cells responsible for liver development.
Susana Minguet, Isabel Cortegano, Pilar Gonzalo, José-Alberto Martínez-Marin, Belén de Andrés, Clara Salas, David Melero, Maria-Luisa Gaspar, Miguel A.R. Marcos