Key transcription factors in the differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells

Sami G. Almalki, Devendra K. Agrawal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

219 Scopus citations


Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are multipotent cells that represent a promising source for regenerative medicine. MSCs are capable of osteogenic, chondrogenic, adipogenic and myogenic differentiation. Efficacy of differentiated MSCs to regenerate cells in the injured tissues requires the ability to maintain the differentiation toward the desired cell fate. Since MSCs represent an attractive source for autologous transplantation, cellular and molecular signaling pathways and micro-environmental changes have been studied in order to understand the role of cytokines, chemokines, and transcription factors on the differentiation of MSCs. The differentiation of MSC into a mesenchymal lineage is genetically manipulated and promoted by specific transcription factors associated with a particular cell lineage. Recent studies have explored the integration of transcription factors, including Runx2, Sox9, PPARγ, MyoD, GATA4, and GATA6 in the differentiation of MSCs. Therefore, the overexpression of a single transcription factor in MSCs may promote trans-differentiation into specific cell lineage, which can be used for treatment of some diseases. In this review, we critically discussed and evaluated the role of transcription factors and related signaling pathways that affect the differentiation of MSCs toward adipocytes, chondrocytes, osteocytes, skeletal muscle cells, cardiomyocytes, and smooth muscle cells.

Original languageEnglish
StateAccepted/In press - Dec 18 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Research


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