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Cytokine signalling in embryonic stem cells

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Kristensen DM, Kalisz M, Nielsen JH. Cytokine signalling in embryonic stem cells. APMIS 2005;113: 756–72.

Cytokines play a central role in maintaining self-renewal in mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells through a member of the interleukin-6 type cytokine family termed leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF). LIF activates the JAK-STAT3 pathway through the class I cytokine receptor gp130, which forms a trimeric complex with LIF and the class I cytokine receptor LIF receptor β. STAT3 has been shown to play a crucial role in self-renewal in mouse ES cells probably by induction of c-myc expression. Thus, ablation of STAT3 activation leads to differentiation. However, important connections between STAT3 and other signalling pathways have been documented. In addition, gp130 activation leads to both PI3K and Src activation. The canonical Wnt pathway is sufficient to maintain self-renewal of both human ES cells and mouse ES cells. It seems quite possible that the main pathway maintaining self-renewal in ES cells is the Wnt pathway, while the LIF-JAK-STAT3 pathway is present in mouse cells as an adaptation for sustaining self-renewal during embryonic diapause, a condition of delayed implantation in mammals. In keeping with this scenario, the Wnt pathway has been shown to elevate the level of c-myc. Thus, the two pathways seem to converge on c-myc as a common target to promote self-renewal. Whereas LIF does not seem to stimulate self-renewal in human embryonic stem cells it cannot be excluded that other cytokines are involved. The pleiotropic actions of the increasing number of cytokines and receptors signalling via JAKs, STATs and SOCS exhibit considerable redundancy, compensation and plasticity in stem cells in accordance with the view that stem cells are governed by quantitative variations in strength and duration of signalling events known from other cell types rather than qualitatively different stem cell-specific factors.
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Keywords: Cytokine signalling; LIF; STAT3; embryonic stem cells; gp130; self-renewal

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Medical Biochemistry and Genetics, Panum Institute, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

Publication date: 2005-11-01

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