HBXIP, also named LAMTOR5, has been well characterized as a transcriptional co-activator in various cancers. However, the role of Hbxip in normal development remains unexplored. Here, we demonstrated that homozygous knockout of Hbxip leads to embryonic lethality, with retarded growth around E7.5, and that depletion of Hbxip compromises the self-renewal of embryonic stem cells (ESCs), with reduced expression of pluripotency genes, reduced cell proliferation and decreased colony-forming capacity. In addition, both Hbxip−/− ESCs and E7.5 embryos displayed defects in ectodermal and mesodermal differentiation. Mechanistically, Hbxip interacts with other components of the Ragulator complex, which is required for mTORC1 activation by amino acids. Importantly, ESCs depleted of Ragulator subunits, Lamtor3 or Lamtor4, displayed differentiation defects similar to those of Hbxip−/− ESCs. Moreover, Hbxip−/−, p14−/− and p18−/− mice, lacking subunits of the Ragulator complex, also shared similar phenotypes, embryonic lethality and retarded growth around E7-E8. Thus, we conclude that Hbxip plays a pivotal role in the development and differentiation of the epiblast, as well as the self-renewal and differentiation of ESCs, through activating mTORC1 signaling.

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