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The let-7/LIN-41 Pathway Regulates Reprogramming to Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells by Controlling Expression of Prodifferentiation Genes

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Reprogramming differentiated cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) promotes a broad array of cellular changes. Here we show that the let-7 family of microRNAs acts as an inhibitory influence on the reprogramming process through a regulatory pathway involving prodifferentiation factors, including EGR1. Inhibiting let-7 in human cells promotes reprogramming to a comparable extent to c-MYC when combined with OCT4, SOX2, and KLF4, and persistence of let-7 inhibits reprogramming. Inhibiting let-7 during reprogramming leads to an increase in the level of the let-7 target LIN-41/TRIM71, which in turn promotes reprogramming and is important for overcoming the let-7 barrier to reprogramming. Mechanistic studies revealed that LIN-41 regulates a broad array of differentiation genes, and more specifically, inhibits translation of EGR1 through binding its cognate mRNA. Together our findings outline a let-7-based pathway that counteracts the activity of reprogramming factors through promoting the expression of prodifferentiation genes.

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