A rare insight into how pluripotency is maintained in mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells is published in Nature. The research explains how the cytokine leukaemia inhibitory factor (LIF) communicates with cells in order for them to retain their proliferative potential.
LIF is used in mouse ES cell culture, and removing it pushes cells towards differentiation. LIF is not, however, required for pluripotency of human ES cells, which are more like LIF-independent pluripotent cells derived from the mouse epiblast. Hitoshi Niwa and colleagues show that two LIF signalling pathways are each communicating via different transcription factors. This means that there are parallel pathways that control pluripotency. This is the first work to describe the functional hierarchy of transcription factors that maintains self-renewal of mouse ES cells.
Hitoshi Niwa (RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology, Kobe, Japan)
(C) Nature press release.
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