GLIS1-3: emerging roles in reprogramming, stem and progenitor cell differentiation and maintenance

David W. Scoville, Hong Soon Kang, Anton M. Jetten


Recent studies have provided evidence for a regulatory role of GLI-similar (GLIS) transcription factors in reprogramming, maintenance and differentiation of several stem and progenitor cell populations. GLIS1, in conjunction with several other reprogramming factors, was shown to markedly increase the efficiency of generating induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) from somatic cells. GLIS2 has been reported to contribute to the maintenance of the pluripotent state in hPSCs. In addition, GLIS2 has a function in regulating self-renewal of hematopoietic progenitors and megakaryocytic differentiation. GLIS3 plays a critical role during the development of several tissues. GLIS3 is able to promote reprogramming of human fibroblasts into retinal pigmented epithelial (RPE) cells. Moreover, GLIS3 is essential for spermatogonial stem cell renewal and spermatogonial progenitor cell differentiation. During pancreas development, GLIS3 protein is first detectable in bipotent pancreatic progenitors and pro-endocrine progenitors and plays a critical role in the generation of pancreatic beta cells. Here, we review the current status of the roles of GLIS proteins in the maintenance and differentiation of these different stem and progenitor cells.