In mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs), chemical blockade of Gsk3α/β and Mek1/2 (2i) instructs a self-renewing ground state whose endogenous inducers are unknown. Here we show that the axon guidance cue Netrin-1 promotes naive pluripotency by triggering profound signalling, transcriptomic and epigenetic changes in mESCs. Furthermore, we demonstrate that Netrin-1 can substitute for blockade of Gsk3α/β and Mek1/2 to sustain self-renewal of mESCs in combination with leukaemia inhibitory factor and regulates the formation of the mouse pluripotent blastocyst. Mechanistically, we reveal how Netrin-1 and the balance of its receptors Neo1 and Unc5B co-regulate Wnt and MAPK pathways in both mouse and human ESCs. Netrin-1 induces Fak kinase to inactivate Gsk3α/β and stabilize β-catenin while increasing the phosphatase activity of a Ppp2r2c-containing Pp2a complex to reduce Erk1/2 activity. Collectively, this work identifies Netrin-1 as a regulator of pluripotency and reveals that it mediates different effects in mESCs depending on its receptor dosage, opening perspectives for balancing self-renewal and lineage commitment.
We use coockies