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Dev Biol. 2006 Feb 1;290(1):81-91. Epub 2005 Dec 5.

WNT/beta-catenin pathway up-regulates Stat3 and converges on LIF to prevent differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells.

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Cecil H. and Ida Green Center for Reproductive Biology Sciences, Department of Pharmacology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 6001 Forest Park Road, Dallas, 75390-9051, USA.


Embryonic stem (ES) cells rely on growth factors provided by feeder cells or exogenously to maintain their pluripotency. In order to identify such factors, we have established sub-lines of STO feeder cells which exhibit variable ability in supporting ES cell self-renewal. Functional screening identifies WNT5A and WNT6 as STO cell-produced factors that potently inhibit ES cell differentiation in a serum-dependent manner. Furthermore, direct activation of beta-catenin without disturbing the upstream components of the WNT/beta-catenin pathway fully recapitulates the effect of WNTs on ES cells. Importantly, the WNT/beta-catenin pathway up-regulates the mRNA for Stat3, a known regulator of ES cell self-renewal in the mouse. Finally, LIF is able to mimic the serum effect to act synergistically with WNT proteins to inhibit ES cell differentiation. Therefore, our study reveals part of the molecular mechanisms by which the WNT/beta-catenin pathway acts to prevent ES cell differentiation through convergence on the LIF/JAK-STAT pathway at the level of STAT3.

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