Inhibition of MUC1-C Increases ROS and Cell Death in Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells

Int J Stem Cells. 2021 May 30;14(2):180-190. doi: 10.15283/ijsc20089.


Background and objectives: Embryonic stem (ES) cells have the capacity to self-renew and generate all types of cells. MUC1-C, a cytoplasmic subunit of MUC1, is overexpressed in various carcinomas and mediates signaling pathways to regulate intracellular metabolic processes and gene expression involved in the maintenance of cancer cells. However, the functional role of MUC1-C in ES cells is not well understood. In this study, we investigated the role of MUC1-C on growth, survival, and differentiation of mouse ES (mES) cells.

Methods and results: Undifferentiated mES cells expressed the MUC1-C protein and the expression level was decreased during differentiation. Inhibition of MUC1-C, by the specific inhibitor GO201, reduced proliferation of mES cells. However, there was no prominent effect on pluripotent markers such as Oct4 expression and STAT3 signaling, and MUC1-C inhibition did not induce differentiation. Inhibition of MUC1-C increased the G1 phase population, decreased the S phase population, and increased cell death. Furthermore, inhibition of MUC1-C induced disruption of the ROS balance in mES cells.

Conclusions: These results suggest that MUC1-C is involved in the growth and survival of mES cells.

Keywords: Cell cycle; MUC1-C; Mouse embryonic stem cells; Proliferation; ROS.