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Exp Cell Res. 2013 Nov 1;319(18):2801-11. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2013.09.006. Epub 2013 Sep 16.

Requirement of B-Raf, C-Raf, and A-Raf for the growth and survival of mouse embryonic stem cells.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.


Extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERKs) have been implicated to be dispensable for self-renewal of mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells, and simultaneous inhibition of both ERK signaling and glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3) not only allows mouse ES cells to self-renew independent of extracellular stimuli but also enables more efficient derivation of naïve ES cells from mouse and rat strains. Interestingly, some ERKs stay active in mouse ES cells which are maintained in regular medium containing leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) and bone morphogenetic protein (BMP). Yet, the upstream signaling for ERK activation and their roles in mouse ES cells, other than promoting or priming differentiation, have not been determined. Here we found that mouse ES cells express three forms of Raf kinases, A-Raf, B-Raf, and C-Raf. Knocking-down each single Raf member failed to affect the sustained ERK activity, neither did A-Raf and B-Raf double knockdown or B-Raf and C-Raf double knockdown change it in ES cells. Interestingly, B-Raf and C-Raf double knockdown, not A-Raf and B-Raf knockdown, inhibited the maximal ERK activation induced by LIF, concomitant with the slower growth of ES cells. On the other hand, A-Raf, B-Raf, and C-Raf triple knockdown markedly inhibited both the maximal and sustained ERK activity in ES cells. Moreover, Raf triple knockdown, similar to the treatment of U-0126, an MEK inhibitor, significantly inhibited the survival and proliferation of ES cells, thereby compromising the colony propagation of mouse ES cells. In summary, our data demonstrate that all three Raf members are required for ERK activation in mouse ES cells and are involved in growth and survival of mouse ES cells.

© 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


ERK1/2; Mouse ES cells; Proliferation; Raf kinase; Survival

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