Int. J. Dev. Biol. 64: 471 - 477 (2020)
doi: 10.1387/ijdb.190372ql
© UPV/EHU Press

FGF signaling mediates definitive endoderm formation by regulating epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and cell proliferation

Shengbiao Li 1,3, Qingsong Huang2, Jianwen Mao2 and Qiuhong LI*,1,2

1School of Basic Medical Sciences, Southwest Medical University, Luzhou, 2Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Pharmaceutical Bioactive Substances, Guangdong Pharmaceutical University, Guangzhou, 3South China Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou, China

ABSTRACT FGF signaling pathway is imperative for definitive endoderm (DE) differentiation from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), which always accompanies an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) process. However, whether there is an association between FGF signaling and the EMT during DE formation in vitro has remained elusive. In the present study, we identify that several FGF family members were significantly activated during the differentiation of hESCs toward DE. Inhibition of FGF signaling by an efficient and selective inhibitor BGJ398 abolishes both the EMT and DE induction by blocking the activation of the zinc-finger transcription factor SNAI1 which is a direct transcriptional repressor of cell adhesion protein CDH1. In addition, cell proliferation is also severely influenced by attenuating the FGF signaling. Collectively, we propose that the FGF signaling promotes the DE formation through mediating the EMT and cell proliferation.

Keywords:

definitive endoderm, FGF signaling, EMT, cell proliferation

*Corresponding author e-mail: li_qiuhong@gdpu.edu.cn