Potassium as a pluripotency-associated element identified through inorganic element profiling in human pluripotent stem cells

Victor J.T. Lin, Ashwini Zolekar, Yi Shi, Bhuvaneswari Koneru, Slobodan Dimitrijevich, Anthony J. Di Pasqua, Yu Chieh Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Despite their well-known function in maintaining normal cell physiology, how inorganic elements are relevant to cellular pluripotency and differentiation in human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) has yet to be systematically explored. Using total reflection X-ray fluorescence (TXRF) spectrometry and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), we analyzed the inorganic components of human cells with isogenic backgrounds in distinct states of cellular pluripotency. The elemental profiles revealed that the potassium content of human cells significantly differs when their cellular pluripotency changes. Pharmacological treatment that alters cell membrane permeability to potassium affected the maintenance and establishment of cellular pluripotency via multiple mechanisms in bona fide hPSCs and reprogrammed cells. Collectively, we report that potassium is a pluripotency-associated inorganic element in human cells and provide novel insights into the manipulation of cellular pluripotency in hPSCs by regulating intracellular potassium.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5005
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2017


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