Uncovering the Metabolic and Stress Responses of Human Embryonic Stem Cells to FTH1 Gene Silencing


Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are pluripotent cells with indefinite self-renewal ability and differentiation properties. To function properly and maintain genomic stability, ESCs need to be endowed with an efficient repair system as well as effective redox homeostasis. In this study, we investigated different aspects involved in ESCs' response to iron accumulation following stable knockdown of the ferritin heavy chain (FTH1) gene, which encodes for a major iron storage protein with ferroxidase activity. Experimental findings highlight unexpected and, to a certain extent, paradoxical results. If on one hand FTH1 silencing does not correlate with increased ROS production nor with changes in the redox status, strengthening the concept that hESCs are extremely resistant and, to a certain extent, even refractory to intracellular iron imbalance, on the other, the differentiation potential of hESCs seems to be affected and apoptosis is observed. Interestingly, we found that FTH1 silencing is accompanied by a significant activation of the nuclear factor (erythroid-derived-2)-like 2 (Nrf2) signaling pathway and pentose phosphate pathway (PPP), which crosstalk in driving hESCs antioxidant cascade events. These findings shed new light on how hESCs perform under oxidative stress, dissecting the molecular mechanisms through which Nrf2, in combination with PPP, counteracts oxidative injury triggered by FTH1 knockdown.

Authors Scaramuzzino L, Lucchino V, Scalise S, Lo Conte M, Zannino C, Sacco A, Biamonte F, Parrotta EI, Costanzo FS, Cuda G
Journal Cells
Publication Date 2021 Sep 15;10(9)
PubMed 34572080
PubMed Central PMC8469604
DOI 10.3390/cells10092431

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