Characterization of a Distinct State in the Continuum of Pluripotency Facilitated by Inhibition of PKCζ in Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells

Stem Cell Reviews and Reports  | 13 February 2023 | 10.1007/s12015-023-10513-5

Ishita Baral, Mayur Balkrishna Shirude, Dhana Lakshmi Joth, Ananda Mukherjee, Debasree Dutta


Inhibition of PKC (PKCi) signaling maintains pluripotency of embryonic stem cells (ESCs) across different mammalian species. However, the position of PKCi maintained ESCs in the pluripotency continuum is largely unknown. Here we demonstrate that mouse ESCs when cultured continuously, with PKCi, for 75 days are retained in naïve state of pluripotency. Gene expression analysis and proteomics studies demonstrated enhanced naïve character of PKCi maintained ESCs in comparison to classical serum/LIF (S/L) supported ESCs. Molecular analysis revealed that activation of PKCζ isoform associate with primed state of pluripotency, present in epiblast-like stem cells generated in vitro while inhibition of PKCζ phosphorylation associated with naïve state of pluripotency in vitro and in vivo. Phosphoproteomics and chromatin modification enzyme array based studies showed loss in DNA methyl transferase 3B (DNMT3B) and its phosphorylation level upon functional inhibition of PKCζ as one of the crucial components of this regulatory pathway. Unlike ground state of pluripotency maintained by MEK/GSK3 inhibitor in addition to LIF (2i/LIF), loss in DNMT3B is a reversible phenomenon in PKCi maintained ESCs. Absence of phosphorylation of c-MYC, RAF1, SPRY4 while presence of ERF, DUSP6, CIC and YAP1 phosphorylation underlined the phosphoproteomics signature of PKCi mediated maintenance of naïve pluripotency. States of pluripotency represent the developmental continuum and the existence of PKCi mediated mouse ESCs in a distinct state in the continuum of pluripotency (DiSCo) might contribute to the establishment of stages of murine embryonic development that were non-permissible till date.


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