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IDO1 Controls Embryonic Stem Cell Metabolism

A recent STEM CELLS article from the laboratories of Xuemei Fu and Yang Xu (Sun Yat‐sen University, Shenzhen, Guangdong, China) aims to describe the mechanisms controlling the switch from glycolysis in self-renewing human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) to oxidative phosphorylation upon differentiation. Liu et al. established that Indoleamine 2,3‐dioxygenase 1 (IDO1) expression in hESCs maintains pluripotency by suppressing mitochondrial activity and promoting glycolysis through an increase in the NAD+/NADH ratio. However, during differentiation of hESCs, IDO1 significantly decreases as the cells switch to oxidative phosphorylation. The authors hope that their new findings will also shed light on the link between pluripotency and cancer, as cancer cells have a similar metabolic profile to stem cells.