The overall goal of this project is to understand how STAT3 regulates the fate of mouse and human embryonic stem cells. In the past reporting period, we focused on identifying and characterizing the genes that are induced by STAT3 and can promote embryonic stem cell self-renewal. Below are the major advancements we made in the past year:
(1) The discovery that Gbx2, a gene directly induced by STAT3, can promote reprogramming to and retention of the pluripotent embryonic stem cell state.
(2) Identification of Tfcp2l1 (Transcription factor CP2-like 1) as a STAT3 downstream target that plays an important role in sustaining mouse embryonic stem cell self-renewal.
(3) Optimization of a small-molecule based culture condition for the maintenance of human embryonic stem cells. We further elucidated the mechanism by which these small molecules promote human embryonic stem cell self-renewal.
Our findings will advance our efforts to better control stem cell fate, which is critical to the future of regenerative medicine.