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Stem Cells. 2009 Aug;27(8):1847-57. doi: 10.1002/stem.128.

A complex role for FGF-2 in self-renewal, survival, and adhesion of human embryonic stem cells.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Faculty of Medicine University Hospital Brno and Faculty of Medicine, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic.

Abstract

The transcription program that is responsible for the pluripotency of human ESCs (hESCs) is believed to be comaintained by exogenous fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF-2), which activates FGF receptors (FGFRs) and stimulates the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway. However, the same pathway is stimulated by insulin receptors, insulin-like growth factor 1 receptors, and epidermal growth factor receptors. This mechanism is further complicated by intracrine FGF signals. Thus, the molecular mechanisms by which FGF-2 promotes the undifferentiated growth of hESCs are unclear. Here we show that, in undifferentiated hESCs, exogenous FGF-2 stimulated the expression of stem cell genes while suppressing cell death and apoptosis genes. Inhibition of autocrine FGF signaling caused upregulation of differentiation-related genes and downregulation of stem cell genes. Thus, exogenous FGF-2 reinforced the pluripotency maintenance program of intracrine FGF-2 signaling. Consistent with this hypothesis, expression of endogenous FGF-2 decreased during hESC differentiation and FGF-2 knockdown-induced hESC differentiation. In addition, FGF-2 signaling via FGFR2 activated MAPK kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase and AKT kinases, protected hESC from stress-induced cell death, and increased hESC adhesion and cloning efficiency. This stimulation of self-renewal, cell survival, and adhesion by exogenous and endogenous FGF-2 may synergize to maintain the undifferentiated growth of hESCs.

PMID:
19544431
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2798073
Free PMC Article

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