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Protein called Cited2 is an essential regulator of embryonic stem cell functions

13 November 2014

Many researchers worldwide are trying to unravel how embryonic stem (ES) cells are controlled. A better understanding of this process is an essential step in developing treatments using stem cells.

One of the key questions is to reveal how ES cells stay in a so-called pluripotent state whereby they still have the ability to become any cell type in the body.

New findings from a team of researchers, including Prof Kamil Kranc and Dr Keisuke Kaji (MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine), José Bragança (University of Algarve), Prof Tariq Enver (University College London), and Dr Jenny Nichols (University of Cambridge) suggest that the protein Cited2 is involved in regulating the pluripotent state.

Previously Prof Kamil Kranc and his team showed that Cited2 is an essential regulator of adult haematopoietic stem cells (Cell Stem Cell, 2009). They now discovered Cited2 also plays an important role in ES cell functions. Thus far, other studies on ES cells revealed a complicated signalling pathway with proteins like Nanog, Oct4, Sox2 being the master regulators of ES cell pluripotency and self-renewal. This new finding suggests Cited2 in turn has an impact on Nanog, Klf4 and another protein called Tbx3. 

Signalling pathway showing Cited2 as an essential regulator of embryonic stem cell functions.

Prof Kamil Kranc of the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, University of Edinburgh, said: “This study taken together with our published and ongoing work on haematopoietic stem cells implies that Cited2 is a critical and universal master regulator of stem cell functions. The identification of such key stem cell regulators is an essential step in the development of new stem cell treatments and cancer therapies.”

The collaborative study was published in the scientific journal ‘Stem Cells’ on the 6th of November 2014. Dr José Bragança, Prof Tariq Enver and Prof Kamil Kranc contributed equally to the work.