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PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e39606. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0039606. Epub 2012 Jun 22.

SUMOylation represses Nanog expression via modulating transcription factors Oct4 and Sox2.

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College of life Sciences, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, Shaanxi, China.


Nanog is a pivotal transcription factor in embryonic stem (ES) cells and is essential for maintaining the pluripotency and self-renewal of ES cells. SUMOylation has been proved to regulate several stem cell markers' function, such as Oct4 and Sox2. Nanog is strictly regulated by Oct4/Sox2 heterodimer. However, the direct effects of SUMOylation on Nanog expression remain unclear. In this study, we reported that SUMOylation repressed Nanog expression. Depletion of Sumo1 or its conjugating enzyme Ubc9 increased the expression of Nanog, while high SUMOylation reduced its expression. Interestingly, we found that SUMOylation of Oct4 and Sox2 regulated Nanog in an opposing manner. SUMOylation of Oct4 enhanced Nanog expression, while SUMOylated Sox2 inhibited its expression. Moreover, SUMOylation of Oct4 by Pias2 or Sox2 by Pias3 impaired the interaction between Oct4 and Sox2. Taken together, these results indicate that SUMOylation has a negative effect on Nanog expression and provides new insights into the mechanism of SUMO modification involved in ES cells regulation.

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