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Prion. 2012 Apr-Jun;6(2):142-6. doi: 10.4161/pri.19035. Epub 2012 Apr 1.

Prion potency in stem cells biology.

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Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Institute of Biomedical Science, University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil.


Prion protein (PrP) can be considered a pivotal molecule because it interacts with several partners to perform a diverse range of critical biological functions that might differ in embryonic and adult cells. In recent years, there have been major advances in elucidating the putative role of PrP in the basic biology of stem cells in many different systems. Here, we review the evidence indicating that PrP is a key molecule involved in driving different aspects of the potency of embryonic and tissue-specific stem cells in self-perpetuation and differentiation in many cell types. It has been shown that PrP is involved in stem cell self-renewal, controlling pluripotency gene expression, proliferation, and neural and cardiomyocyte differentiation. PrP also has essential roles in distinct processes that regulate tissue-specific stem cell biology in nervous and hematopoietic systems and during muscle regeneration. Results from our own investigations have shown that PrP is able to modulate self-renewal and proliferation in neural stem cells, processes that are enhanced by PrP interactions with stress inducible protein 1 (STI1). Thus, the available data reveal the influence of PrP in acting upon the maintenance of pluripotent status or the differentiation of stem cells from the early embryogenesis through adulthood.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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