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Suppression of induced pluripotent stem cell generation by the p53–p21 pathway


Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells can be generated from somatic cells by the introduction of Oct3/4 (also known as Pou5f1), Sox2, Klf4 and c-Myc, in mouse1,2,3,4 and in human5,6,7,8. The efficiency of this process, however, is low9. Pluripotency can be induced without c-Myc, but with even lower efficiency10,11. A p53 (also known as TP53 in humans and Trp53 in mice) short-interfering RNA (siRNA) was recently shown to promote human iPS cell generation12, but the specificity and mechanisms remain to be determined. Here we report that up to 10% of transduced mouse embryonic fibroblasts lacking p53 became iPS cells, even without the Myc retrovirus. The p53 deletion also promoted the induction of integration-free mouse iPS cells with plasmid transfection. Furthermore, in the p53-null background, iPS cells were generated from terminally differentiated T lymphocytes. The suppression of p53 also increased the efficiency of human iPS cell generation. DNA microarray analyses identified 34 p53-regulated genes that are common in mouse and human fibroblasts. Functional analyses of these genes demonstrate that the p53–p21 pathway serves as a barrier not only in tumorigenicity, but also in iPS cell generation.

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Figure 1: iPS cell generation from p53 -null MEF by three or four reprogramming factors.
Figure 2: T-lymphocyte-derived iPS cells.
Figure 3: p21 as a target of p53 during iPS cell generation.
Figure 4: Effect of p53 suppression on plasmid-mediated mouse iPS cell generation.

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Gene Expression Omnibus

Data deposits

Microarray data are available at the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO, public database under accession number GSE13365.


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We thank D. Srivastava for critical reading of the manuscript; M. Narita, A. Okada, N. Takizawa, H. Miyachi and S. Kitano for technical assistance; and R. Kato, S. Takeshima, Y. Ohtsu and E. Nishikawa for administrative assistance. We also thank Y. Sasai and T. Tada for technical advices, T. Kitamura for Plat-E cells and pMXs retroviral vectors, R. Farese for RF8 ES cells, and B. Weinberg and W. Hahn for shRNA constructs. This study was supported in part by a grant from the Leading Project of MEXT, Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research of JSPS and MEXT, and a grant from the Program for Promotion of Fundamental Studies in Health Sciences of NIBIO (to S.Y.). H. H. is a research student under the Japanese Government (MEXT).

Author Contributions H.H. conducted most of the experiments in this study. K.T. generated iPS cells from T cells and also performed the shRNA experiments. T.I. performed manipulation of mouse embryos, teratoma experiments, and mouse line maintenance. T.A. and O.K. optimized retroviral transduction into T cells. M.N. generated iPS cells with plasmids. K.O. generated the Nanog–GFP reporter mice and the plasmids for iPS cell generation. K.O. and K.T. supervised H.H. S.Y. designed and supervised the study, and prepared the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Shinya Yamanaka.

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Hong, H., Takahashi, K., Ichisaka, T. et al. Suppression of induced pluripotent stem cell generation by the p53–p21 pathway. Nature 460, 1132–1135 (2009).

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