Multi-lineage differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells - To Wnt, or not Wnt
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Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are multipotent precursor cells originating from several adult connective tissues. MSCs possess the ability to self-renew and differentiate into several lineages, and are recognized by the expression of unique cell surface markers. Several lines of evidence suggest that various signal transduction pathways and their interplay regulate MSC differentiation. To that end, a critical player in regulating MSC differentiation is a group of proteins encoded by the Wnt gene family, which was previously known for influencing various stages of embryonic development and cell fate determination. As MSCs have gained significant clinical attention for their potential applications in regenerative medicine, it is imperative to unravel the mechanisms by which molecular regulators control differentiation of MSCs for designing cell-based therapeutics. It is rather coincidental that the functional outcome(s) of Wnt-induced signals share similarities with cellular redox-mediated networks from the standpoint of MSC biology. Furthermore, there is evidence for a crosstalk between Wnt and redox signalling, which begs the question whether Wnt-mediated differentiation signals involve the intermediary role of reactive oxygen species. In this review, we summarize the impact of Wnt signalling on multi-lineage differentiation of MSCs, and attempt to unravel the intricate interplay between Wnt and redox signals.
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