• Embryonic stem cells;
  • Pluripotency;
  • c-Myc;
  • p53;
  • Apoptosis


c-Myc participates in diverse cellular processes including cell cycle control, tumorigenic transformation, and reprogramming of somatic cells to induced pluripotent cells. c-Myc is also an important regulator of self-renewal and pluripotency of embryonic stem cells (ESCs). We recently demonstrated that loss of the Max gene, encoding the best characterized partner for all Myc family proteins, causes loss of the pluripotent state and extensive cell death in ESCs strictly in this order. However, the mechanisms and molecules that are responsible for these phenotypes remain largely obscure. Here, we show that Sirt1, p53, and p38MAPK are crucially involved in the detrimental phenotype of Max-null ESCs. Moreover, our analyses revealed that these proteins are involved at varying levels to one another in the hierarchy of the pathway leading to cell death in Max-null ESCs. STEM CELLS2012;30:1634–1644