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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Jul 31;109(31):12550-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1206740109. Epub 2012 Jul 16.

Gap 1 phase length and mouse embryonic stem cell self-renewal.

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Department of Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


In somatic cells, the length of the G1 phase of the cell cycle is tightly linked to differentiation, and its elongation can drive differentiation in many cases. Although it has been suggested that the situation is very similar in embryonic stem cells (ESCs), where a rapid cell cycle and a short G1 phase maintain the pluripotent state, evidence has been contradictory. Here we show that, in murine ESCs, elongation of the cell cycle and elongation of G1 are compatible with their pluripotent state. Multiple methods that lengthen the cell cycle and that target cyclin-dependent kinase, retinoblastoma protein, and E2F activity all fail to induce differentiation on their own or even to facilitate differentiation. The resistance of murine ESCs to differentiation induced by lengthening G1 and/or the cell cycle could allow for separate control of these events and provide new opportunities for investigation and application.

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