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Requirement for STAT3 and its target, TFCP2L1, in self-renewal of naïve pluripotent stem cells in vivo and in vitro.

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Pei, Yihan 
Jones, Kenneth 


We previously demonstrated gradual loss of epiblast during diapause in embryos lacking components of the LIF/IL6 receptor. Here, we explore the requirement for the downstream signalling transducer andactivator of transcription STAT3 and its target, TFCP2L1, in maintenance of naïve pluripotency. Unlike conventional markers, such as NANOG, which remains high in epiblast until implantation, both STAT3 and TFCP2L1 proteins decline during blastocyst expansion, but intensify in the embryonic region after induction of diapause, as observed visually and confirmed using our image-analysis pipeline, consistent with our previous transcriptional expression data. Embryos lacking STAT3 or TFCP2L1 underwent catastrophic loss of most of the inner cell mass during the first few days of diapause, indicating involvement of signals in addition to LIF/IL6 for sustaining naïve pluripotency in vivo. By blocking MEK/ERK signalling from the morula stage, we could derive embryonic stem cells with high efficiency from STAT3 null embryos, but not those lacking TFCP2L1, suggesting a hitherto unknown additional role for this essential STAT3 target in transition from embryo to embryonic stem cells in vitro. This article has an associated First Person interview with the first author of the paper.


Peer reviewed: True

Funder: University of Cambridge; Id:

Funder: Japan Society for the Promotion of Science; Id:

Funder: UEHARA Memorial Foundation; Id:

Funder: University of Edinburgh; Id:


Blastocyst, Embryonic diapause, Embryonic stem cells, Naïve pluripotency, STAT3, TFCP2L1, Mice, Blastocyst, Embryonic Stem Cells, Leukemia Inhibitory Factor, Pluripotent Stem Cells, Repressor Proteins, Signal Transduction, STAT3 Transcription Factor, Animals

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Biol Open

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The Company of Biologists
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (RG74277)
Wellcome Trust (203151/Z/16/Z)