Honey bee Royalactin unlocks conserved pluripotency pathway in mammals

Nat Commun. 2018 Dec 4;9(1):5078. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-06256-4.


Royal jelly is the queen-maker for the honey bee Apis mellifera, and has cross-species effects on longevity, fertility, and regeneration in mammals. Despite this knowledge, how royal jelly or its components exert their myriad effects has remained poorly understood. Using mouse embryonic stem cells as a platform, here we report that through its major protein component Royalactin, royal jelly can maintain pluripotency by activating a ground-state pluripotency-like gene network. We further identify Regina, a mammalian structural analog of Royalactin that also induces a naive-like state in mouse embryonic stem cells. This reveals an important innate program for stem cell self-renewal with broad implications in understanding the molecular regulation of stem cell fate across species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bees / metabolism
  • Chromatin
  • Fatty Acids / chemistry
  • Fatty Acids / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Fertility
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / drug effects
  • Glycoproteins / chemistry
  • Glycoproteins / pharmacology*
  • Insect Proteins / chemistry
  • Insect Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Lentivirus / genetics
  • Lentivirus / metabolism
  • Longevity
  • Mammals / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Models, Molecular
  • Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells / drug effects*
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / drug effects*
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Teratoma / pathology
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / genetics
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / metabolism


  • Chromatin
  • Fatty Acids
  • Glycoproteins
  • Insect Proteins
  • MRJP1 protein, Apis mellifera
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases
  • royal jelly