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Nat Commun. 2012;3:1085. doi: 10.1038/ncomms2059.

A kinase inhibitor screen identifies small-molecule enhancers of reprogramming and iPS cell generation.

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  • 1Program for RNA Biology, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, 10901 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.


Somatic cells can be reprogrammed to form embryonic stem cell-like induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), but the process suffers from low efficiency and the underlying molecular mechanisms that control reprogramming remain poorly understood. Here we perform an inhibitor screen to identify kinases that enhance, or present a barrier to, reprogramming. In particular, inhibitors of p38, inositol trisphosphate 3-kinase, and Aurora A kinase potently enhance iPSC generation, and iPSCs derived from inhibitor-treated somatic cells are capable of reaching a fully reprogrammed state. Knockdown of target kinases by short interfering RNAs confirms that they function as barrier genes. We show that Aurora A kinase, which functions in centrosome activity and spindle assembly, is highly induced during reprogramming and inhibits Akt-mediated inactivation of GSK3β, resulting in compromised reprogramming efficiency. Together, our results not only identify new compounds that enhance iPSC generation but also shed new light on the function of Aurora A kinase in the reprogramming process.

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