Mechanics-guided embryonic patterning of neuroectoderm tissue from human pluripotent stem cells

Xufeng Xue, Yubing Sun, Agnes M. Resto-Irizarry, Ye Yuan, Koh Meng Aw Yong, Yi Zheng, Shinuo Weng, Yue Shao, Yimin Chai, Lorenz Studer, Jianping Fu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

146 Scopus citations


Classic embryological studies have successfully applied genetics and cell biology principles to understand embryonic development. However, it remains unresolved how mechanics, as an integral driver of development, is involved in controlling tissue-scale cell fate patterning. Here we report a micropatterned human pluripotent stem (hPS)-cell-based neuroectoderm developmental model, in which pre-patterned geometrical confinement induces emergent patterning of neuroepithelial and neural plate border cells, mimicking neuroectoderm regionalization during early neurulation in vivo. In this hPS-cell-based neuroectoderm patterning model, two tissue-scale morphogenetic signals - cell shape and cytoskeletal contractile force - instruct neuroepithelial/neural plate border patterning via BMP-SMAD signalling. We further show that ectopic mechanical activation and exogenous BMP signalling modulation are sufficient to perturb neuroepithelial/neural plate border patterning. This study provides a useful microengineered, hPS-cell-based model with which to understand the biomechanical principles that guide neuroectoderm patterning and hence to study neural development and disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)633-641
Number of pages9
JournalNature Materials
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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