NF-κB signaling plays an essential role in maintaining the undifferentiated state of embryonic stem (ES) cells. However, opposing roles of NF-κB have been reported in mouse and human ES cells, and the role of NF-κB in human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells has not yet been clarified. Here, we report the role of NF-κB signaling in maintaining the undifferentiated state of human iPS cells. Compared with differentiated cells, undifferentiated human iPS cells showed an augmentation of NF-κB activity. During differentiation induced by the removal of feeder cells and FGF2, we observed a reduction in NF-κB activity, the expression of the undifferentiation markers Oct3/4 and Nanog, and the up-regulation of the differentiated markers WT-1 and Pax-2. The specific knockdown of NF-κB signaling using p65 siRNA also reduced the expression of Oct3/4 and Nanog and up-regulated WT-1 and Pax-2 but did not change the ES-like colony formation. Our results show that the augmentation of NF-κB signaling maintains the undifferentiated state of human iPS and suggest the importance of this signaling pathway in maintenance of human iPS cells.
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