• ES.cells;
  • Trophectoderm;
  • Inner cell mass


We have derived putative embryonic stem (ES) cell lines from preimplantation rabbit embryos and report here their initial characterization. Two principal cell types emerged following serial passage of explanted embryos, and each has subsequently given rise to immortalized cell lines. One cell type has morphology identical to primary outgrowths of trophectoderm, is strictly feeder-cell dependent, and spontaneously forms trophectodermal vesicles at high cell density. The second type appears to represent pluripotent ES cells derived from the inner cell mass as evidenced by (1) ability to grow in an undifferentiated state on feeder layers, (2) maintenance of a predominantly normal karyotype through serial passage (over 1 year), and (3) ability to form embryoid bodies, which form terminally differentiated cell types representative of ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm. These ES cells may ultimately be suitable for introduction of germline mutations (via homologous recombination). The rabbit's size, reproductive capability, and well-characterized physiology make it suitable for a wide range of investigations, particularly for development of large animal models of human disease. © 1993 Wiley-Liss, Inc.