BACKGROUND: Human embryonic stem cells provide access to the earliest stages of human development and may serve as a source of specialized cells for regenerative medicine. Thus, it becomes crucial to develop protocols for the directed differentiation of embryonic stem cells into tissue-restricted precursors. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Here, we present culture conditions for the derivation of unlimited numbers of pure mesenchymal precursors from human embryonic stem cells and demonstrate multilineage differentiation into fat, cartilage, bone, and skeletal muscle cells. CONCLUSION: Our findings will help to elucidate the mechanism of mesoderm specification during embryonic stem cell differentiation and provide a platform to efficiently generate specialized human mesenchymal cell types for future clinical applications.
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