Fibroblast growth factor regulates human neuroectoderm specification through ERK1/2-PARP-1 pathway.
ABSTRACT: Fibroblast growth factor (FGF) signaling and PAX6 transcription are required for neuroectoderm specification of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). In this study, we asked how FGF signaling leads to PAX6 transcription and neuroectoderm specification from hESCs. Under a chemically defined medium, FGF inhibition blocked phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK 1/2) with a significant reduction of PAX6-expressing neuroepithelia, indicating that FGF regulates neural induction through ERK1/2 activation. Activation of FGF-ERK1/2 pathway was necessary for the activity of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 (PARP-1), a conserved nuclear protein catalyzing polymerization of ADP-ribose units. Pharmacological inhibition and genetic ablation of PARP-1 inhibited neural induction from hESCs, suggesting that FGF-ERK1/2 signal pathway regulates neuroectoderm specification through regulating PARP-1 activity. Furthermore, FGF-ERK1/2-PARP-1 cascade regulated the expression of PAX6, a transcription determinant of human neuroectoderm. Together, we propose that FGF regulates hESC neural specification through the ERK1/2-PARP-1 signaling pathway.
Project description:Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) can exit the self-renewal programme, through the action of signalling molecules, at any given time and differentiate along the three germ layer lineages. We have systematically investigated the specific roles of three signalling pathways, TGF?/SMAD2, BMP/SMAD1, and FGF/ERK, in promoting the transition of hESCs into the neuroectoderm lineage. In this context, inhibition of SMAD2 and ERK signalling served to cooperatively promote exit from hESC self-renewal through the rapid downregulation of NANOG and OCT4. In contrast, inhibition of SMAD1 signalling acted to maintain SOX2 expression and prevent non-neural differentiation via HAND1. Inhibition of FGF/ERK upregulated OTX2 that subsequently induced the neuroectodermal fate determinant PAX6, revealing a novel role for FGF2 in indirectly repressing PAX6 in hESCs. Combined inhibition of the three pathways hence resulted in highly efficient neuroectoderm formation within 4 days, and subsequently, FGF/ERK inhibition promoted rapid differentiation into peripheral neurons. Our study assigns a novel, biphasic role to FGF/ERK signalling in the neural induction of hESCs, which may also have utility for applications requiring the rapid and efficient generation of peripheral neurons.
Project description:The transcriptional regulation of neuroectoderm (NE) specification is unknown. Here we show that Pax6 is uniformly expressed in early NE cells of human fetuses and those differentiated from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). This is in contrast to the later expression of Pax6 in restricted mouse brain regions. Knockdown of Pax6 blocks NE specification from hESCs. Overexpression of either Pax6a or Pax6b, but not Pax6triangle upPD, triggers hESC differentiation. However, only Pax6a converts hESCs to NE. In contrast, neither loss nor gain of function of Pax6 affects mouse NE specification. Both Pax6a and Pax6b bind to pluripotent gene promoters but only Pax6a binds to NE genes during human NE specification. These findings indicate that Pax6 is a transcriptional determinant of the human NE and suggest that Pax6a and Pax6b coordinate with each other in determining the transition from pluripotency to the NE fate in human by differentially targeting pluripotent and NE genes.
Project description:The TET family of 5-methylcytosine (5mC) dioxygenases plays critical roles in development by modifying DNA methylation. Using CRISPR, we inactivated the TET1 gene in H9 human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). Mutant H9 hESCs remained pluripotent, even though the level of hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) decreased to 30% of that in wild-type cells. Neural differentiation induced by dual SMAD inhibitors was not significantly affected by loss of TET1 activity. However, in a morphogen-free condition, TET1 deficiency significantly reduced the generation of NESTIN+SOX1+ neuroectoderm cells from 70% in wild-type cells to 20% in mutant cells. This was accompanied by a 20-fold reduction in the expression level of PAX6 and a significant decrease in the amount of 5hmC on the PAX6 promoter. Overexpression of the TET1 catalytic domain in TET1-deficient hESCs significantly increased 5hmC levels and elevated PAX6 expression during differentiation. Consistent with these in vitro data, PAX6 expression was significantly decreased in teratomas formed by TET1-deficient hESCs. However, TET1 deficiency did not prevent the formation of neural tube-like structures in teratomas. Our results suggest that TET1 deficiency impairs the intrinsic ability of hESCs to differentiate to neuroectoderm, presumably by decreasing the expression of PAX6, a key regulator in the development of human neuroectoderm.
Project description:The role of miRNAs in neuroectoderm specification is largely unknown. We screened miRNA profiles that are differentially changed when human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) were differentiated to neuroectodermal precursors (NEP), but not to epidermal (EPI) cells and found that two miRNA families, miR-200 and miR-96, were uniquely downregulated in the NEP cells. We confirmed zinc-finger E-box-binding homeobox (ZEB) transcription factors as a target of the miR-200 family members and identified paired box 6 (PAX6) transcription factor as the new target of miR-96 family members via gain- and loss-of-function analyses. Given the essential roles of ZEBs and PAX6 in neural induction, we propose a model by which miR-200 and miR-96 families coordinate to regulate neural induction.
Project description:The mechanisms that govern human neural specification are not completely characterized. Here we used human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) to study the role of fibroblast growth factor (FGF)-signaling in early human neural specification. Differentiation was obtained by culturing clusters of hESCs in chemically-defined medium. We show that FGF-signaling, which is endogenously active during early differentiation of hESCs, induces early neural specification, while its blockage inhibits neuralization. The early neuralization effect of FGF-signaling is not mediated by promoting the proliferation of existing neural precursors (NPs) or prevention of their apoptosis. The neural instructive effect of FGF-signaling occurs after an initial FGF-independent differentiation into primitive ectoderm-like fate. We further show that FGF-signaling can induce neuralization by a mechanism which is independent of modulating bone morphogenic protein (BMP)-signaling. Still, FGF-signaling is not essential for hESC neuralization which can occur in the absence of FGF and BMP-signaling. Collectively, our data suggest that human neural induction is instructed by FGF-signaling, though neuralization of hESCs can occur in its absence.
Project description:Several transcription factors (TFs) have been implicated in neuroectoderm (NE) development, and recently, the TF PAX6 was shown to be critical for human NE specification. However, microRNA networks regulating human NE development have been poorly documented. We hypothesized that microRNAs activated by PAX6 should promote NE development. Using a genomics approach, we identified PAX6 binding sites and active enhancers genome-wide in an in vitro model of human NE development that was based on neural differentiation of human embryonic stem cells (hESC). PAX6 binding to active enhancers was found in the proximity of several microRNAs, including hsa-miR-135b. MiR-135b was activated during NE development, and ectopic expression of miR-135b in hESC promoted differentiation toward NE. MiR-135b promotes neural conversion by targeting components of the TGF-? and BMP signaling pathways, thereby inhibiting differentiation into alternate developmental lineages. Our results demonstrate a novel TF-miRNA module that is activated during human neuroectoderm development and promotes the irreversible fate specification of human pluripotent cells toward the neural lineage.
1000-01-01 | S-EPMC4198029 | BioStudies
Project description:PAX6 is essential for neural retina (NR) and forebrain development but how PAX6 instructs NR versus forebrain specification remains unknown. We found that the paired-less PAX6, PAX6D, is expressed in NR cells during human eye development and along human embryonic stem cell (hESC) specification to retinal cells. hESCs deficient for PAX6D failed to enter NR specification. Induced expression of PAX6D but not PAX6A in a PAX6-null background restored the NR specification capacity. ChIP-Seq, confirmed by functional assays, revealed a set of retinal genes and non-retinal neural genes that are potential targets of PAX6D, including WNT8B. Inhibition of WNTs or knocking down of WNT8B restored the NR specification capacity of neuroepithelia with PAX6D knockout whereas activation of WNTs blocked NR specification even when PAX6D was induced. Thus, PAX6D specifies neuroepithelia to NR cells via regulation of WNT8B.
Project description:TET enzymes oxidize 5-methylcytosine (5mC) to 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC), which can lead to DNA demethylation. However, direct connections between TET-mediated DNA demethylation and transcriptional output are difficult to establish owing to challenges in distinguishing global versus locus-specific effects. Here we show that TET1, TET2 and TET3 triple-knockout (TKO) human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) exhibit prominent bivalent promoter hypermethylation without an overall corresponding decrease in gene expression in the undifferentiated state. Focusing on the bivalent PAX6 locus, we find that increased DNMT3B binding is associated with promoter hypermethylation, which precipitates a neural differentiation defect and failure of PAX6 induction during differentiation. dCas9-mediated locus-specific demethylation and global inactivation of DNMT3B in TKO hESCs partially reverses the hypermethylation at the PAX6 promoter and improves differentiation to neuroectoderm. Taking these findings together with further genome-wide methylation and TET1 and DNMT3B ChIP-seq analyses, we conclude that TET proteins safeguard bivalent promoters from de novo methylation to ensure robust lineage-specific transcription upon differentiation.
Project description:Understanding neuroectoderm formation and subsequent diversification to functional neural subtypes remains elusive. We show here that human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) differentiate to primitive neuroectoderm after 8-10 days. At this stage, cells uniformly exhibit columnar morphology and express neural markers, including anterior but not posterior homeodomain proteins. The anterior identity of these cells develops regardless of morphogens present during initial neuroectoderm specification. This anterior phenotype can be maintained or transformed to a caudal fate with specific morphogens over the next week, when cells become definitive neuroepithelia, marked by neural tube-like structures with distinct adhesion molecule expression, Sox1 expression, and a resistance to additional patterning signals. Thus, primitive neuroepithelia represents the earliest neural cells that possess the potential to differentiate to regionally specific neural progenitors. This finding offers insights into early human brain development and lays a foundation for generating neural cells with correct positional and transmitter profiles. Disclosure of potential conflicts of interest is found at the end of this article.
Project description:Cellular competence is defined as a cell's ability to respond to signaling cues as a function of time. In Xenopus laevis, cellular responsiveness to fibroblast growth factor (FGF) changes during development. At blastula stages, FGF induces mesoderm, but at gastrula stages FGF regulates neuroectoderm formation. A Xenopus Oct3/4 homologue gene, XLPOU91, regulates mesoderm to neuroectoderm transitions. Ectopic XLPOU91 expression in Xenopus embryos inhibits FGF induction of Brachyury (Xbra), eliminating mesoderm, whereas neural induction is unaffected. XLPOU91 knockdown induces high levels of Xbra expression, with blastopore closure being delayed to later neurula stages. In morphant ectoderm explants, mesoderm responsiveness to FGF is extended from blastula to gastrula stages. The initial expression of mesoderm and endoderm markers is normal, but neural induction is abolished. Churchill (chch) and Sip1, two genes regulating neural competence, are not expressed in XLPOU91 morphant embryos. Ectopic Sip1 or chch expression rescues the morphant phenotype. Thus, XLPOU91 epistatically lies upstream of chch/Sip1 gene expression, regulating the competence transition that is critical for neural induction. In the absence of XLPOU91 activity, the cues driving proper embryonic cell fates are lost.