News – Development publication

Last week the on-line version of Development published our manuscript “A membrane-associated β-catenin/Oct4 complex correlates with ground-state pluripotency in mouse embryonic stem cells.” Development. 2013 Mar;140(6):1171-83. doi: 10.1242/dev.085654.. Given its checkered history (see the forthcoming blog  “What I learnt from a rejection” ) we were delighted. The work gets close to settle ongoing debates about the impact of ß-catenin, the transcriptional effector of Wnt signalling, on pluripotency in mouse ES cells. It concurs that while ß-catenin contributes to the self renewal of the pluripotent state, this effect is not mediated by its transcriptional activity. We show that ß-catenin/Tcf mediated transcription is very low in self renewing ES cells which, nonetheless, have most of their ß-catenin associated with the membrane. Looking at the relationship between ß-catenin and the components of the pluripotency network we uncover the existence of a membrane associated ß-catenin/Oct4 complex. The amount of this complex correlates with the degree of pluripotency which suggests that it does play a role in the biology of the ES cells. There are some surprises here and time (and of course more experiments) will tell whether the interactions and functional relationships that we describe are important (as we suspect) or just another anecdote of the ES cells world.

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