The emergence of human gastrulation upon in vitro attachment

Riccardo De Santis, Eleni Rice, Gist Croft, Min Yang, Edwin A. Rosado-Olivieri, Ali H. Brivanlou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While studied extensively in model systems, human gastrulation remains obscure. The scarcity of fetal biological material as well as ethical considerations limit our understanding of this process. In vitro attachment of natural blastocysts shed light on aspects of the second week of human development in the absence of the morphological manifestation of gastrulation. Stem cell-derived blastocyst models, blastoids, provide the opportunity to reconstitute pre- to post-implantation development in vitro. Here we show that upon in vitro attachment, human blastoids self-organize a BRA+ population and undergo gastrulation. Single-cell RNA sequencing of these models replicates the transcriptomic signature of the human gastrula. Analysis of developmental timing reveals that in both blastoid models and natural human embryos, the onset of gastrulation as defined by molecular markers, can be traced to timescales equivalent to 12 days post fertilization. In all, natural human embryos and blastoid models self-organize primitive streak and mesoderm derivatives upon in vitro attachment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-53
Number of pages13
JournalStem Cell Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 9 2024


  • blastoids
  • gastrulation
  • human embryo
  • in vitro attachment
  • scRNA-seq

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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