Pluripotent ES (embryonic stem) cells can be expanded in culture and induced to differentiate into a wide range of cell types. Self-renewal of ES cells involves proliferation with concomitant suppression of differentiation. Some critical and conserved pathways regulating self-renewal in both human and mouse ES cells have been identified, but there is also evidence suggesting significant species differences. Cytoplasmic and receptor tyrosine kinases play important roles in proliferation, survival, self-renewal and differentiation in stem, progenitor and adult cells. The present review focuses on the role of tyrosine kinase signalling for maintenance of the undifferentiated state, proliferation, survival and early differentiation of ES cells.

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