Leukemia Inhibitory Factor (LIF)/Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) signaling pathway maintains the stemness and pluripotency of mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs). Detailed knowledge on key intermediates in this pathway as well as any parallel pathways is largely missing. We initiated our study by investigating the effect of small molecule Curcumin on various signalling pathways essential for self-renewal. Curcumin sustained the LIF independent self-renewal of mESCs and induced pluripotent stem cells (miPSCs) in a STAT3 activity dependent manner. Gene expression analysis showed LIF/STAT3 and redox signaling components to be majorly modulated. Amongst ROS genes, expression of Manganese Superoxide Dismutase (MnSOD) specifically relied on STAT3 signaling as evidenced by STAT3 inhibition and reporter assay. The silencing of MnSOD, but not Cu-ZnSOD expression, resulted in the loss of mESC pluripotency in presence of LIF, and the overexpression of MnSOD is sufficient for maintaining the expression of pluripotent genes in the absence of STAT3 signaling. Finally, we demonstrate MnSOD to stabilize the turnover of pluripotent proteins at the post-translational level by modulating proteasomal activity. In conclusion, our findings unravel a novel role of STAT3 mediated MnSOD in the self-renewal of mESCs.
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