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Exp Mol Med. 2009 Aug 31;41(8):525-37. doi: 10.3858/emm.2009.41.8.091.

Nuclear receptor regulation of stemness and stem cell differentiation.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Texas 75390, USA.


Stem cells include a diverse number of toti-, pluri-, and multi-potent cells that play important roles in cellular genesis and differentiation, tissue development, and organogenesis. Genetic regulation involving various transcription factors results in the self-renewal and differentiation properties of stem cells. The nuclear receptor (NR) superfamily is composed of 48 ligand-activated transcription factors involved in diverse physiological functions such as metabolism, development, and reproduction. Increasing evidence shows that certain NRs function in regulating stemness or differentiation of embryonic stem (ES) cells and tissue-specific adult stem cells. Here, we review the role of the NR superfamily in various aspects of stem cell biology, including their regulation of stemness, forward- and trans-differentiation events; reprogramming of terminally differentiated cells; and interspecies differences. These studies provide insights into the therapeutic potential of the NR superfamily in stem cell therapy and in treating stem cell-associated diseases (e.g., cancer stem cell).

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