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Trends Cell Biol. 2002 Sep;12(9):432-8.

Signalling, cell cycle and pluripotency in embryonic stem cells.

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  • 1Department of Gene Expression and Development, Roslin Institute, Midlothian, EH25 9PS, Roslin, UK.


Pluripotent mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells can be expanded in large numbers in vitro owing to a process of symmetrical self-renewal. Self-renewal entails proliferation with a concomitant suppression of differentiation. Here we describe how the cytokine leukaemia inhibitory factor (LIF) sustains self-renewal through activation of the transcription factor STAT3, and how two other signals - extracellular-signal-related kinase (ERK) and phosphatidylinositol-3-OH kinase (PI3K) - can influence differentiation and propagation, respectively. We relate these observations to the unusual cell-cycle properties of ES cells and speculate on the role of the cell cycle in maintaining pluripotency.

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