Int J Biol Sci 2011; 7(4):418-425. doi:10.7150/ijbs.7.418

Research Paper

Medaka Cleavage Embryos Are Capable of Generating ES-Like Cell Cultures

Zhendong Li, Narayani Bhat*, Dwarakanath Manali*, Danke Wang, Ni Hong, Meisheng Yi, Ruowen Ge, Yunhan Hong

Department of Biological Science, National University of Singapore, 10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260, Singapore
* This work contains part of thesis of these authors.

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Li Z, Bhat N, Manali D, Wang D, Hong N, Yi M, Ge R, Hong Y. Medaka Cleavage Embryos Are Capable of Generating ES-Like Cell Cultures. Int J Biol Sci 2011; 7(4):418-425. doi:10.7150/ijbs.7.418. Available from

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Mammalian embryos at the blastocyst stage have three major lineages, which in culture can give rise to embryonic stem (ES) cells from the inner cell mass or epiblast, trophoblast stem cells from the trophectoderm, and primitive endoderm stem cells. None of these stem cells is totipotent, because they show gene expression profiles characteristic of their sources and usually contribute only to the lineages of their origins in chimeric embryos. It is unknown whether embryos prior to the blastocyst stage can be cultivated towards totipotent stem cell cultures. Medaka is an excellent model for stem cell research. This laboratory fish has generated diploid and even haploid ES cells from the midblastula embryo with ~2000 cells. Here we report in medaka that dispersed cells from earlier embryos can survive, proliferate and attach in culture. We show that even 32-cells embryos can be dissociated into individual cells capable of producing continuously growing ES-like cultures. Our data point to the possibility to derive stable cell culture from cleavage embryos in this organism.

Keywords: cleavage, morula, blastula, stem cell culture, totipotency