The transcriptional factor Nanog functions in maintaining pluripotency in cooperation with other key genes such as Oct4. Oct4 and Sox2 bind to the Nanog promoter in mouse and human embryonic stem cell. Nanog levels allow stem cells to balance the creation of lineage-committed and undifferentiated cells.
Nanog-deficient ES cells lose pluripotency and differentiate into extraembryonic endoderm lineage. Thus it is one of the molecular markers suitable for recognizing the undifferentiated state of stem cells in the mouse and human. NANOG is a new marker for testicular carcinoma in situ and germ cell tumors.
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