The endoderm is the innermost layer of cells in very early vertebrate and insect embryos. It is one of the three primary germ cell layers and gives rise to epithelial tissue lining some organs, including the digestive, urinary and respiratory tracts.

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News and Comment

  • News & Views |

    Work from the early 1980s reported strange lobes protruding from Caenorhabditis elegans germ cell precursors. However, the fate and potential significance of these lobes remained unexplored for decades. Now, neighbouring endodermal cells are shown to sever and digest these lobes, in an unexpected process of 'intercellular cannibalism', which could play an important part in regulating primordial germ cells.

    • Jennifer K. Heppert
    •  & Bob Goldstein
    Nature Cell Biology 18, 1267-1268
  • News & Views |

    Modelling organs in culture has great potential to improve our understanding of development, organogenesis and disease. While some endodermal derived organs have been modelled, the corpus region of the stomach, where acid-producing cells reside, remained an invincible target. A 60-day differentiation protocol now enables the generation of functional acid-producing cells in culture, conquering the challenge.

    • Meritxell Huch
    Nature Cell Biology 17, 966-967
  • News & Views |

    The endoderm layer destined to be primitive gut is a mosaic of earlier visceral endoderm and definitive endoderm that arises later, during gastrulation. Live imaging now reveals that in mouse embryos, definitive endoderm cells egress from underlying mesoderm and intercalate into the overlying cell layer. This process requires SOX17-mediated control of basement membrane organization.

    • Angela C. H. McDonald
    •  & Janet Rossant
    Nature Cell Biology 16, 1128-1129
  • News & Views |

    Generation of differentiated kidney cell types from pluripotent stem cells would be enormously useful for research and therapeutic purposes, but progress towards this goal has so far been limited. In three recent reports, mature kidney cell types and three-dimensional nephron-like structures were generated from pluripotent cells rapidly and efficiently. A detailed understanding of the signals that drive nephrogenesis proved critical for these achievements.

    • Benjamin D. Humphreys