Cell adhesion and sorting in embryoid bodies derived from N- or E-cadherin deficient murine embryonic stem cells

Robert Moore, Wensi Tao, Yue Meng, Elizabeth R Smith, Xiang Xi Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The primitive endoderm epithelial structure in mouse blastocysts forms following cell differentiation and subsequent sorting, and this two-step process can be reproduced in vitro using an embryoid body model. We found that in the chimeric embryoid bodies consisting of paired wildtype and E-cadherin null ES cells, the wildtype sorted to the center and were enveloped by the less adhesive E-cadherin null cells, in accord with Steinberg's hypothesis. However, wildtype and N-cadherin null ES cells intermixed and did not segregate, a situation that may be explained by Albert Harris' modified principle, which incorporates the unique properties of living cells. Furthermore, in chimeric embryoid bodies composed of N-cadherin and E-cadherin null ES cells, the two weakly interacting cell types segregated but did not envelop one another. Lastly, the most consistent and striking observation was that differentiated cells sorted to the surface and formed an enveloping layer, regardless of the relative cell adhesive affinity of any cell combination, supporting the hypothesis that the ability of the differentiated cells to establish apical polarity is the determining factor in surface sorting and positioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-128
Number of pages8
JournalBiology Open
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 15 2014


  • Cell adhesion
  • Cell segregation
  • Cell sorting
  • Differential adhesive affinity hypothesis
  • Embryos
  • Epithelial polarity
  • Germinal layers
  • Morphogenesis
  • Primitive endoderm
  • Self-assembly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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