Date of Award

January 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biomedical Sciences

First Advisor

Junguk J. Hur


Pluripotency is characterized by the capacity to self-renew and differentiate into all cell types. This state relies on both extrinsic factors, such as leukemia inhibitory factor and bone morphogenetic protein, and intrinsic factors, including pluripotent transcription factors.While the role of pluripotent transcription factors in stem cell maintenance is well understood, their functions beyond pluripotency remain unclear. In this study, we focused on NANOG, a core member of the pluripotency network, and investigated its roles in two different models of differentiation: the transition from the naive to the primed pluripotent state and neuroectodermal differentiation. Our findings demonstrate that NANOG plays a dual role. It functions as a pluripotency maintenance factor during the undifferentiated state and can direct mesodermal specification during early differentiation. We propose that this mechanism is achieved through the indirect recruitment of co-transcription factor LHX1. These results reinforce the fundamental concept of pluripotent transcription factors such as NANOG in governing cell fate decisions and subsequent developmental programs.