Reciprocal Regulation of Akt and Oct4 Promotes the Self-Renewal and Survival of Embryonal Carcinoma Cells.

College of Life Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310058, China.
Molecular cell (Impact Factor: 14.46). 10/2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.molcel.2012.08.030
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Signaling via the Akt serine/threonine protein kinase plays critical roles in the self-renewal of embryonic stem cells and their malignant counterpart, embryonal carcinoma cells (ECCs). Here we show that in ECCs, Akt phosphorylated the master pluripotency factor Oct4 at threonine 235, and that the levels of phosphorylated Oct4 in ECCs correlated with resistance to apoptosis and tumorigenic potential. Phosphorylation of Oct4 increased its stability and facilitated its nuclear localization and its interaction with Sox2, which promoted the transcription of the core stemness genes POU5F1 and NANOG. Furthermore, in ECCs, unphosphorylated Oct4 bound to the AKT1 promoter and repressed its transcription. Phosphorylation of Oct4 by Akt resulted in dissociation of Oct4 from the AKT1 promoter, which activated AKT1 transcription and promoted cell survival. Therefore, a site-specific, posttranslational modification of the Oct4 protein orchestrates the regulation of its stability, subcellular localization, and transcriptional activities, which collectively promotes the survival and tumorigenicity of ECCs.

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