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Cell Death Differ. 2013 Dec;20(12):1698-708. doi: 10.1038/cdd.2013.122. Epub 2013 Sep 6.

ΔNp63 regulates select routes of reprogramming via multiple mechanisms.

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Department of Pathology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, USA.


Somatic cells can be converted into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) by forced expression of various combinations of transcription factors, but the molecular mechanisms of reprogramming are poorly understood. Specifically, evidence that the reprogramming process can take many distinct routes only begins to emerge. It is definitively established that p53 deficiency greatly enhances reprogramming, revealing p53's barrier function for induced pluripotency, but the role of its homologs p63 and p73 are unknown. Here we report that in stark contrast to p53, p73 has no role in reprogramming. However, p63 is an enabling (rather than a barrier) factor for Oct4, Sox2 and Klf4 (OSK) and Oct4 and Sox2 (OS), but not for Oct4 and Klf4 (OK) reprogramming of mouse embryonic fibroblasts. Specifically, p63 is essential during reprogramming for maximum efficiency, albeit not for the ability to reprogram per se, and is dispensable for maintaining stability and pluripotency of established iPSC colonies. ΔNp63, but not TAp63, is the principal isoform involved. Loss of p63 can affect reprogramming via several mechanisms such as reduced expression of mesenchymal-epithelial transition and pluripotency genes, hypoproliferation and loss of the most reprogrammable cell populations. During OSK and OS reprogramming, different mechanisms seem to be critical, such as regulation of epithelial and pluripotency genes in OSK reprogramming versus regulation of proliferation in OS reprogramming. Finally, our data reveal three different routes of reprogramming by OSK, OS or OK, based on their differential p63 requirements for iPSC efficiency and pluripotency marker expression. This supports the concept that many distinct routes of reprogramming exist.

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