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Stem Cell Res Ther. 2014 Feb 18;5(1):24. doi: 10.1186/scrt413.

The proteasome complex and the maintenance of pluripotency: sustain the fate by mopping up?


The proteasome is a multi-enzyme complex responsible for orchestrating protein quality control by degrading misfolded, damaged, abnormal and foreign proteins. Studies related to the association of the proteasomal system in the preservation of self-renewal in both human and mouse pluripotent cells are sparse, and therefore a clear indication of the emergence of a new and important field of research. Under specific conditions the standard proteasome switches to the newly synthesized immunoproteasome, a catalytically active protein chamber also involved in the regulation of protein homeostasis, cell signaling and gene expression. Herein we review recent data to help elucidate and highlight the pivotal role of the proteasome complex, constitutive as well as inducible, in the regulation of self-renewal, pluripotency and differentiation of both embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells. The proteasome that is endowed with enhanced proteolytic activity maintains self-renewal by regulating gene expression. In addition to protein degradation, the proteasome activator PA28, compartments of the 19S regulatory particle and key members of the ubiquitin pathway dictate the fate of a pluripotent stem cell. We anticipate that our observations will stimulate active research in this new and emerging theme related to stem cell biology, disease and regenerative medicine.

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