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Hesx1 enhances pluripotency by working downstream of multiple pluripotency-associated signaling pathways

Li, Wen-Zhong, Wang, Zhi-Wei, Chen, Lin-Lin, Xue, Hong-Ni, Chen, Xi, Guo, Ze-Kun, Zhang, Yong
Biochemical and biophysical research communications 2015 v.464 pp. 936-942
embryonic stem cells, gene expression, homeotic genes, mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase, signal transduction, tau-protein kinase, transcription factors
Hesx1, a homeobox gene expressed in embryonic stem cells (ESCs), has been implicated in the core transcription factors governing the pluripotent state. However, data about the underlying mechanism of how Hesx1 is involved in maintaining pluripotency is still scarce. In this study, we find Hesx1 responds to multiple pluripotency-related pathway inhibitors as well as LIF stimulation. Particularly, the expression of Hesx1 can be readily induced by dual inhibition (2i) of glycogen synthase kinase 3 and mitogen-activated protein kinase. Forced expression of Hesx1 can partially compensate for the withdrawal of either LIF or each component of 2i. We also demonstrate that LIF and each inhibitor of 2i can induce Hesx1 independent of one another. We tentatively put forward that Hesx1 is a common downstream target of LIF- and 2i-mediated self-renewal signaling pathways and plays an important role in maintaining ESC identity. Our study extends the methods of identifying the missing crucial factors in establishing ESC pluripotency.