Mouse epiblast stem cells (EpiSCs) can be derived from a wide range of developmental stages. To characterize and compare EpiSCs with different origins, we derived a series of EpiSC lines from pregastrula stage to late-bud-stage mouse embryos. We found that the transcriptomes of these cells are hierarchically distinct from those of the embryonic stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), and epiblast/ectoderm. The EpiSCs display globally similar gene expression profiles irrespective of the original developmental stage of the source tissue. They are developmentally similar to the ectoderm of the late-gastrula-stage embryo and behave like anterior primitive streak cells when differentiated in vitro and in vivo. The EpiSC lines that we derived can also be categorized based on a correlation between gene expression signature and predisposition to differentiate into particular germ-layer derivatives. Our findings therefore highlight distinct identifying characteristics of EpiSCs and provide a foundation for further examination of EpiSC properties and potential. © 2014 Elsevier Inc.
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