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A role for intracellular calcium downstream of G-protein signaling in undifferentiated human embryonic stem cell culture

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-84
Number of pages14
JournalStem cell research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012


Multiple signalling pathways maintain human embryonic stem cells (hESC) in an undifferentiated state. Here we sought to define the significance of G protein signal transduction in the preservation of this state distinct from other cellular processes. Continuous treatment with drugs targeting G(αs)-, G(α-i/o)- and G(α-q/11)-subunit signalling mediators were assessed in independent hESC lines after 7days to discern effects on normalised alkaline phosphatase positive colony frequency vs total cell content. This identified PLCβ, intracellular free calcium and CAMKII kinase activity downstream of G(α-q/11) as of particular importance to the former. To confirm the significance of this finding we generated an agonist-responsive hESC line transgenic for a G(α-q/11) subunit-coupled receptor and demonstrated that an undifferentiated state could be promoted in the presence of an agonist without exogenously supplied bFGF and that this correlated with elevated intracellular calcium. Similarly, treatment of unmodified hESCs with a range of intracellular free calcium-modulating drugs in biologically defined mTESR culture system lacking exogenous bFGF promoted an hESC phenotype after 1week of continuous culture as defined by co-expression of OCT4 and NANOG. At least one of these drugs, lysophosphatidic acid significantly elevates phosphorylation of calmodulin and STAT3 in this culture system (p

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