Biomolecules & Therapeutics  
Cripto Enhances Proliferation and Survival of Mesenchymal Stem Cells by Up-Regulating JAK2/STAT3 Pathway in a GRP78-Dependent Manner
SeungPil Yun1, Chul Won Yun2, Jun Hee Lee3, SangMin Kim1 and Sang Hun Lee2,*
1Neuroregeneration and Stem Cell Programs, Institute for Cell Engineering, Department of Neurology, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA, 2Medical Science Research Institute, Soonchunhyang University, Seoul Hospital, Seoul 04401, Department of Medical Bioscience, Soonchunhyang University, Asan 31151, Republic of Korea, 3Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA
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Received: May 1, 2017; Revised: June 1, 2017; Accepted: June 9, 2017; Published online: August 25, 2017.
© The Korean Society of Applied Pharmacology. All rights reserved.

Cripto is a small glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored signaling protein that can detach from the anchored membrane and stimulate proliferation, migration, differentiation, vascularization, and angiogenesis. In the present study, we demonstrated that Cripto positively affected proliferation and survival of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) without affecting multipotency. Cripto also increased expression of phosphorylated janus kinase 2 (p-JAK2), phosphorylated signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (p-STAT3), 78 kDa glucose-regulated protein (GRP78), c-Myc, and cyclin D1. Notably, treatment with an anti-GRP78 antibody blocked these effects. In addition, pretreatment with STAT3 short interfering RNA (siRNA) inhibited the increase in p-JAK2, c-Myc, cyclin D1, and BCL3 levels caused by Cripto and attenuated the pro-survival action of Cripto on MSCs. We also found that incubation with Cripto protected MSCs from apoptosis caused by hypoxia or H2O2 exposure, and the level of caspase-3 decreased by the Cripto-induced expression of B-cell lymphoma 3-encoded protein (BCL3). These effects were sensitive to down-regulation of BCL3 expression by BCL3 siRNA. Finally, we showed that Cripto enhanced expression levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), fibroblast growth factor (FGF), and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF). In summary, our results demonstrated that Cripto activated a novel biochemical cascade that potentiated MSC proliferation and survival. This cascade relied on phosphorylation of JAK2 and STAT3 and was regulated by GRP78. Our findings may facilitate clinical applications of MSCs, as these cells may benefit from positive effects of Cripto on their survival and biological properties.
Keywords: Cripto, Mesenchymal stem cell, Bioactivity, GRP78, JAK2/STAT3

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