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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2004 Nov 26;324(4):1333-9.

A regulatory role of Wnt signaling pathway in the hematopoietic differentiation of murine embryonic stem cells.

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Department of Medicine and Cancer Center, University of California-San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.


One of the most important issues in stem cell research is to understand the regulatory mechanisms responsible for their differentiation. An extensive understanding of mechanism underlying the process of differentiation is crucial in order to prompt stem cells to perform a particular function after differentiation. To elucidate the molecular mechanisms responsible for the hematopoietic differentiation of embryonic stem cells (ESCs), we investigated murine ES cells for the presence of hematopoietic lineage markers as well as Wnt signaling pathway during treatments with different cytokines alone or in combination with another. Here we report that Wnt/beta-catenin signaling is down-regulated in hematopoietic differentiation of murine ES cells. We also found that differentiation induced by the interleukin-3, interleukin-6, and erythropoietin combinations resulted in high expression of CD3e, CD11b, CD45R/B220, Ly-6G, and TER-119 in differentiated ES cells. A high expression of beta-catenin was observed in two undifferentiated ES cell lines. Gene and protein expression analysis revealed that the members downstream of Wnt in this signaling pathway including beta-catenin, GSK-3beta, Axin, and TCF4 were significantly down-regulated as ES cells differentiated into hematopoietic progenitors. Our results show that the Wnt/beta-catenin signaling pathway plays a role in the hematopoietic differentiation of murine ESCs and also may support beta-catenin as a crucial factor in the maintenance of ES cells in their undifferentiated state.

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