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Stem Cells International
Volume 2017, Article ID 7284872, 14 pages
Research Article

Tumorigenic and Differentiation Potentials of Embryonic Stem Cells Depend on TGFβ Family Signaling: Lessons from Teratocarcinoma Cells Stimulated to Differentiate with Retinoic Acid

1Kol’tsov Institute of Developmental Biology, Russian Academy of Sciences, 26 Vavilov Street, Moscow 119334, Russia
2Shemyakin and Ovchinnikov Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences, Miklukho-Maklaya Street 16/10, Moscow 117997, Russia

Correspondence should be addressed to Olga Gordeeva; ur.xednay@aveedrogaglo

Received 7 April 2017; Revised 1 June 2017; Accepted 13 June 2017; Published 16 July 2017

Academic Editor: Tilo Kunath

Copyright © 2017 Olga Gordeeva and Sergey Khaydukov. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A significant challenge for the development of safe pluripotent stem cell-based therapies is the incomplete in vitro differentiation of the pluripotent stem cells and the presence of residual undifferentiated cells initiating teratoma development after transplantation in recipients. To understand the mechanisms of incomplete differentiation, a comparative study of retinoic acid-induced differentiation of mouse embryonic stem (ES) and teratocarcinoma (EC) cells was conducted. The present study identified differences in proliferative activity, differentiation, and tumorigenic potentials between ES and EC cells. Higher expression of Nanog and Mvh, as well as Activin A and BMP4, was found in undifferentiated ES cells than in EC cells. However, the expression levels of Activin A and BMP4 increased more sharply in the EC cells during retinoic acid-induced differentiation. Stimulation of the Activin/Nodal and BMP signaling cascades and inhibition of the MEK/ERK and PI3K/Act signaling pathways resulted in a significant decrease in the number of Oct4-expressing ES cells and a loss of tumorigenicity, similar to retinoic acid-stimulated EC cells. Thus, this study demonstrates that a differentiation strategy that modulates prodifferentiation and antiproliferative signaling in ES cells may be effective for eliminating tumorigenic cells and may represent a valuable tool for the development of safe stem cell therapeutics.