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Cell Death Dis. 2017 Sep 7;8(9):e3034. doi: 10.1038/cddis.2017.432.

p73 is required for appropriate BMP-induced mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition during somatic cell reprogramming.

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Instituto de Biomedicina (IBIOMED) and Departamento de Biología Molecular, University of León, University of Leon, Campus de Vegazana, Leon, Spain.
Research Programs Unit, Molecular Neurology, Biomedicum Stem Cell Center, University of Helsinki, Haartmaninkatu 8, Helsinki, Finland.
Josep Carreras Leukemia Research Institute, Department of Biomedicine. School of Medicine, University of Barcelona, Casanova 143, Barcelona, Spain.
Departamento de Medicina, Cirugía y Anatomía Veterinaria, University of León, Campus de Vegazana, León, Spain.
Department of Molecular Oncology, Moffitt Cancer Center, 12902 Magnolia Drive, Tampa, FL, USA.
Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats (ICREA), Barcelona, Spain.
Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Cáncer (CIBERONC), ISCIII, Madrid, Spain.
Instituto de Desarrollo Ganadero and Departamento de Producción Animal, University of León, Campus de Vegazana, León, Spain.


The generation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) by somatic cell reprogramming holds great potential for modeling human diseases. However, the reprogramming process remains very inefficient and a better understanding of its basic biology is required. The mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET) has been recognized as a crucial step for the successful reprogramming of fibroblasts into iPSCs. It has been reported that the p53 tumor suppressor gene acts as a barrier of this process, while its homolog p63 acts as an enabling factor. In this regard, the information concerning the role of the third homolog, p73, during cell reprogramming is limited. Here, we derive total Trp73 knockout mouse embryonic fibroblasts, with or without Trp53, and examine their reprogramming capacity. We show that p73 is required for effective reprogramming by the Yamanaka factors, even in the absence of p53. Lack of p73 affects the early stages of reprogramming, impairing the MET and resulting in altered maturation and stabilization phases. Accordingly, the obtained p73-deficient iPSCs have a defective epithelial phenotype and alterations in the expression of pluripotency markers. We demonstrate that p73 deficiency impairs the MET, at least in part, by hindering BMP pathway activation. We report that p73 is a positive modulator of the BMP circuit, enhancing its activation by DNp73 repression of the Smad6 promoter. Collectively, these findings provide mechanistic insight into the MET process, proposing p73 as an enhancer of MET during cellular reprogramming.

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