Honey bee Royalactin unlocks conserved pluripotency pathway in mammals

Derrick C Wan, Stefanie L Morgan, Andrew L Spencley, Natasha Mariano, Erin Y Chang, Gautam Shankar, Yunhai Luo, Ted H Li, Dana Huh, Star K Huynh, Jasmine M Garcia, Cole M Dovey, Jennifer Lumb, Ling Liu, Katharine V Brown, Abel Bermudez, Richard Luong, Hong Zeng, Victoria L Mascetti, Sharon J PitteriJordon Wang, Hua Tu, Marco Quarta, Vittorio Sebastiano, Roel Nusse, Thomas A Rando, Jan E Carette, J Fernando Bazan, Kevin C Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Royal jelly is the queen-maker for the honey bee Apis mellifera, and has cross-species effects on longevity, fertility, and regeneration in mammals. Despite this knowledge, how royal jelly or its components exert their myriad effects has remained poorly understood. Using mouse embryonic stem cells as a platform, here we report that through its major protein component Royalactin, royal jelly can maintain pluripotency by activating a ground-state pluripotency-like gene network. We further identify Regina, a mammalian structural analog of Royalactin that also induces a naive-like state in mouse embryonic stem cells. This reveals an important innate program for stem cell self-renewal with broad implications in understanding the molecular regulation of stem cell fate across species.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5078
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2018


  • Animals
  • Bees/metabolism
  • Chromatin
  • Fatty Acids/chemistry
  • Female
  • Fertility
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental/drug effects
  • Glycoproteins/chemistry
  • Insect Proteins/chemistry
  • Lentivirus/genetics
  • Longevity
  • Mammals/physiology
  • Mice
  • Models, Molecular
  • Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells/drug effects
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells/drug effects
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Teratoma/pathology
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases/genetics


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