The role of purinergic receptors in stem cell differentiation

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A major challenge modern society has to face is the increasing need for tissue regeneration due to degenerative diseases or tumors, but also accidents or warlike conflicts. There is great hope that stem cell-based therapies might improve current treatments of cardiovascular diseases, osteochondral defects or nerve injury due to the unique properties of stem cells such as their self-renewal and differentiation potential. Since embryonic stem cells raise severe ethical concerns and are prone to teratoma formation, adult stem cells are still in the focus of research. Emphasis is placed on cellular signaling within these cells and in between them for a better understanding of the complex processes regulating stem cell fate. One of the oldest signaling systems is based on nucleotides as ligands for purinergic receptors playing an important role in a huge variety of cellular processes such as proliferation, migration and differentiation. Besides their natural ligands, several artificial agonists and antagonists have been identified for P1 and P2 receptors and are already used as drugs. This review outlines purinergic receptor expression and signaling in stem cells metabolism. We will briefly describe current findings in embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells as well as in cancer-, hematopoietic-, and neural crest-derived stem cells. The major focus will be placed on recent findings of purinergic signaling in mesenchymal stem cells addressed in in vitro and in vivo studies, since stem cell fate might be manipulated by this system guiding differentiation towards the desired lineage in the future.




Kaebisch, C., Schipper, D., Babczyk, P., & Tobiasch, E. (2015). The role of purinergic receptors in stem cell differentiation. Computational and Structural Biotechnology Journal. Elsevier.

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