Most cell culture systems grow and spread as contact-inhibited monolayers on flat culture dishes, but the embryonic stem cell (ESC) is one of the cell phenotypes that prefer to self-organize as tightly packed three-dimensional (3D) colonies. ESC also readily form 3D cell aggregates, called embryoid bodies (EB) that partially mimic the spatial and temporal processes of the developing embryo. Here, the rationale for ESC aggregation, rather than “spreading” on gelatin-coated or mouse embryonic fibroblast (MEF)-coated dishes, is examined through the quantification of the expression levels of adhesion molecules on ESC and the calculation of the adhesive forces on ESC. Modeling each ESC as a dodecahedron, the adhesive force for each ESC-ESC binding was found to be 9.1 × 105 pN, whereas, the adhesive force for ESC-MEF binding was found to be an order of magnitude smaller at 7.9 × 104 pN. We also show that E-cadherin is the dominating molecule in the ESC-ESC adhesion and blocking E-cadherin leads to a significant reduction in colony formation. Here, we mathematically describe the preference for ESC to self-assemble into ESC-ESC aggregates and 3D colonies, rather than to bind and spread on gelatin or MEF-coated dishes, and have shown that these interactions are predominantly due to E-cadherin expression on ESC.
Replication stress (RS) is a source of DNA damage that has been linked to cancer and aging, which is suppressed by the ATR kinase. In mice, reduced ATR levels in a model of the ATR-Seckel syndrome lead to RS and accelerated aging. Similarly, ATR-Seckel embryonic fibroblasts (MEF) accumulate RS and undergo cellular senescence. We previously showed that senescence of ATR-Seckel MEF cannot be rescued by p53-deletion. Here, we show that the genetic ablation of the INK4a/Arf locus fully rescues senescence on ATR mutant MEF, but also that induced by other conditions that generate RS such as low doses of hydroxyurea or ATR inhibitors. In addition, we show that a persistent exposure to RS leads to increased levels of INK4a/Arf products, revealing that INK4a/ARF behaves as a bona fide RS checkpoint. Our data reveal an unknown role for INK4a/ARF in limiting the expansion of cells suffering from persistent replication stress, linking this well-known tumor suppressor to the maintenance of genomic integrity.
Aberrant regulation of glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) is implicated in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), but the mechanisms involved remain elusive. Our recent study shows that GSK-3 impairs lysosomal acidification and that inhibition of GSK-3 re-acidified lysosomes in brains of AD mice. This effect was accompanied by reductions in β-amyloid pathology and amelioration of cognitive deficits. Presenilin-1 (PS1) is an essential factor in lysosomal acidification. To determine whether the inhibition of GSK-3 restores lysosomal malfunction caused by dysfunctional PS1, we treated MEF cells deficient in presenilin proteins (MEF-PS1/2−/−) with a selective substrate competitive GSK-3 inhibitor, L803-mts. L803-mts enhanced the acidic lysosomal pool in MEF-PS1/2−/− cells and increased levels of activated cathepsin D in the lysosomes. We conclude that GSK-3 and PS1 operate via similar mechanisms to disrupt lysosomal acidification. Importantly, these data indicate that GSK-3 inhibitors have potential in treatment of conditions associated with defective PS1.