Pluripotent stem cells must strictly maintain genomic integrity to prevent transmission of mutations. In human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), we found that genome surveillance is achieved via two ways, namely, a hypersensitivity to apoptosis and a very low accumulation of DNA lesions. The low apoptosis threshold was mediated by constitutive p53 expression and a marked upregulation of proapoptotic p53 target genes of the BCL-2 family, ensuring the efficient iPSC removal upon genotoxic insults. Intriguingly, despite the elevated apoptosis sensitivity, both mitochondrial and nuclear DNA lesions induced by genotoxins were less frequent in iPSCs compared to fibroblasts. Gene profiling identified that mRNA expression of several antioxidant proteins was considerably upregulated in iPSCs. Knockdown of glutathione peroxidase-2 and depletion of glutathione impaired protection against DNA lesions. Thus, iPSCs ensure genomic integrity through enhanced apoptosis induction and increased antioxidant defense, contributing to protection against DNA damage.
Dannenmann, B., Lehle, S., Hildebrand, D. G., Kübler, A., Grondona, P., Schmid, V., … Schulze-Osthoff, K. (2015). High glutathione and glutathione peroxidase-2 levels mediate cell-type-specific DNA damage protection in human induced pluripotent stem cells. Stem Cell Reports, 4(5), 886–898. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.stemcr.2015.04.004