Phospholipid remodeling is critical for stem cell pluripotency by facilitating mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition

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Science Advances  27 Nov 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 11, eaax7525
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aax7525


Metabolic reprogramming has emerged as a key regulator of cell fate decisions. Roles of glucose and amino acid metabolism have been extensively documented, whereas lipid metabolism in pluripotency remains largely unexplored. Using a high-coverage lipidomics approach, we reveal dynamic changes in phospholipids occurring during reprogramming and show that the CDP-ethanolamine (CDP-Etn) pathway for phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) synthesis is required at the early stage of reprogramming. Mechanistically, the CDP-Etn pathway inhibits NF-κB signaling and mesenchymal genes in a Pebp1-dependent manner, without affecting autophagy, resulting in accelerated mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET) and enhanced reprogramming. Furthermore, PE binding to Pebp1 enhances the interaction of Pebp1 with IKKα/β and reduces the phosphorylation of IKKα/β. The CDP-Etn-Pebp1 axis is associated with EMT/MET in hepatocyte differentiation, indicating that Etn/PE is a broad-spectrum MET/EMT-regulating metabolite. Collectively, our study reveals an unforeseen connection between phospholipids, cell migration, and pluripotency and highlights the importance of phospholipids in cell fate transitions.

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