The regulation of stem cell fate is poorly understood. Genetic studies in Caenorhabditis elegans lead to the hypothesis that a conserved cytoplasmic double-negative feedback loop consisting of the RNA-binding protein Trim71 and the let-7 microRNA controls the pluripotency and differentiation of stem cells. Although let-7-microRNA-mediated inhibition of Trim71 promotes differentiation, whether and how Trim71 regulates pluripotency and inhibits the let-7 microRNA are still unknown. Here, we show that Trim71 represses Ago2 mRNA translation in mouse embryonic stem cells. Blocking this repression leads to a specific post-transcriptional increase of mature let-7 microRNAs, resulting in let-7-dependent stemness defects and accelerated differentiation in the stem cells. These results not only support the Trim71-let-7-microRNA bi-stable switch model in controlling stem cell fate, but also reveal that repressing the conserved pro-differentiation let-7 microRNAs at the mature microRNA level by Ago2 availability is critical to maintaining pluripotency.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)