Agata Kurowski

University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England, United Kingdom

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Publications (4)29.45 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The transcription factor Oct4 is required in vitro for establishment and maintenance of embryonic stem cells and for reprogramming somatic cells to pluripotency. In vivo, it prevents the ectopic differentiation of early embryos into trophoblast. Here, we further explore the role of Oct4 in blastocyst formation and specification of epiblast versus primitive endoderm lineages using conditional genetic deletion. Experiments involving mouse embryos deficient for both maternal and zygotic Oct4 suggest that it is dispensable for zygote formation, early cleavage and activation of Nanog expression. Nanog protein is significantly elevated in the presumptive inner cell mass of Oct4 null embryos, suggesting an unexpected role for Oct4 in attenuating the level of Nanog, which might be significant for priming differentiation during epiblast maturation. Induced deletion of Oct4 during the morula to blastocyst transition disrupts the ability of inner cell mass cells to adopt lineage-specific identity and acquire the molecular profile characteristic of either epiblast or primitive endoderm. Sox17, a marker of primitive endoderm, is not detected following prolonged culture of such embryos, but can be rescued by provision of exogenous FGF4. Interestingly, functional primitive endoderm can be rescued in Oct4-deficient embryos in embryonic stem cell complementation assays, but only if the host embryos are at the pre-blastocyst stage. We conclude that cell fate decisions within the inner cell mass are dependent upon Oct4 and that Oct4 is not cell-autonomously required for the differentiation of primitive endoderm derivatives, as long as an appropriate developmental environment is established.
    Development 02/2014; 141(5). DOI:10.1242/dev.096875 · 6.46 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Homeostasis of most adult tissues is maintained by balancing stem cell self-renewal and differentiation, but whether post-transcriptional mechanisms can regulate this process is unknown. Here, we identify that an RNA methyltransferase (Misu/Nsun2) is required to balance stem cell self-renewal and differentiation in skin. In the epidermis, this methyltransferase is found in a defined sub-population of hair follicle stem cells poised to undergo lineage commitment, and its depletion results in enhanced quiescence and aberrant stem cell differentiation. Our results reveal that post-transcriptional RNA methylation can play a previously unappreciated role in controlling stem cell fate.
    PLoS Genetics 12/2011; 7(12):e1002403. DOI:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002403 · 7.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We have examined expression of the Myc target gene Misu (NSUN2) in breast cancer. There was extensive copy number gain, and increased mRNA and protein levels, of Misu in approximately one third of breast cancer cell lines and primary tumours examined, irrespective of tumour subtype. Genes on 5p15.31-33, where Misu is located, showed evolutionary synteny. siRNA-mediated knockdown of Misu reduced cell number in over half of the cell lines tested, irrespective of estrogen receptor status. We conclude that Misu is up-regulated in a substantial proportion of breast cancers and has therapeutic potential as a drug target.
    Cancer letters 10/2009; 289(1):71-80. DOI:10.1016/j.canlet.2009.08.004 · 5.62 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Myc-induced SUN domain-containing protein (Misu or NSun2) is a nucleolar RNA methyltransferase important for c-Myc-induced proliferation in skin, but the mechanisms by which Misu contributes to cell cycle progression are unknown. In this study, we demonstrate that Misu translocates from the nucleoli in interphase to the spindle in mitosis as an RNA-protein complex that includes 18S ribosomal RNA. Functionally, depletion of Misu caused multiple mitotic defects, including formation of unstructured spindles, multipolar spindles, and chromosome missegregation, leading to aneuploidy and cell death. The presence of both RNA and Misu is required for correct spindle assembly, and this process is independent of active translation. Misu might mediate its function at the spindle by recruiting nucleolar and spindle-associated protein (NuSAP), an essential microtubule-stabilizing and bundling protein. We further identify NuSAP as a novel direct target gene of c-Myc. Collectively, our results suggest a novel mechanism by which c-Myc promotes proliferation by stabilizing the mitotic spindle in fast-dividing cells via Misu and NuSAP.
    The Journal of Cell Biology 08/2009; 186(1):27-40. DOI:10.1083/jcb.200810180 · 9.83 Impact Factor