Ethanol diverts early neuronal differentiation trajectory of embryonic stem cells by disrupting the balance of lineage specifiers.
ABSTRACT: Ethanol is a toxin responsible for the neurodevelopmental deficits of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Recent evidence suggests that ethanol modulates the protein expression of lineage specifier transcription factors Oct4 (Pou5f1) and Sox2 in early stages of mouse embryonic stem (ES) cell differentiation. We hypothesized that ethanol induced an imbalance in the expression of Oct4 and Sox2 in early differentiation, that dysregulated the expression of associated and target genes and signaling molecules and diverted cells from neuroectodermal (NE) formation.We showed modulation by ethanol of 33 genes during ES cell differentiation, using high throughput microfluidic dynamic array chips measuring 2,304 real time quantitative PCR assays. Based on the overall gene expression dynamics, ethanol drove cells along a differentiation trajectory away from NE fate. These ethanol-induced gene expression changes were observed as early as within 2 days of differentiation, and were independent of cell proliferation or apoptosis. Gene expression changes were correlated with fewer ?III-tubulin positive cells of an immature neural progenitor phenotype, as well as a disrupted actin cytoskeleton were observed. Moreover, Tuba1a and Gapdh housekeeping genes were modulated by ethanol during differentiation and were replaced by a set of ribosomal genes with stable expression.These findings provided an ethanol-response gene signature and pointed to the transcriptional dynamics underlying lineage imbalance that may be relevant to FASD phenotype.
Project description:SOX2 and OCT4 are pioneer transcription factors playing a key role in embryonic stem (ES) cell self-renewal and differentiation. How temporal fluctuations in their expression levels bias lineage commitment is unknown. Here, we generated knock-in reporter fusion ES cell lines allowing to monitor endogenous SOX2 and OCT4 protein fluctuations in living cells and to determine their impact on mesendodermal and neuroectodermal commitment. We found that small differences in SOX2 and OCT4 levels impact cell fate commitment in G1 but not in S phase. Elevated SOX2 levels modestly increased neuroectodermal commitment and decreased mesendodermal commitment upon directed differentiation. In contrast, elevated OCT4 levels strongly biased ES cells towards both neuroectodermal and mesendodermal fates in undirected differentiation. Using ATAC-seq on ES cells gated for different endogenous SOX2 and OCT4 levels, we found that high OCT4 levels increased chromatin accessibility at differentiation-associated enhancers. This suggests that small endogenous fluctuations of pioneer transcription factors can bias cell fate decisions by concentration-dependent priming of differentiation-associated enhancers.
Project description:Embryonic stem (ES) cell pluripotency and differentiation are controlled by a network of transcription factors and signaling molecules. Transcription factors such as Oct4 and Nanog are required for self-renewal and maintain the undifferentiated state of ES cells. Decreases in the expression of these factors indicate the initiation of differentiation of ES cells. Inactivation of the gene encoding the orphan nuclear receptor GCNF showed that it plays an important role in the repression of Oct4 expression in somatic cells during early embryonic development. GCNF-/- ES cells were isolated to study the function of GCNF in the down-regulation of pluripotency genes during differentiation. Loss of repression of ES cell marker genes Oct4, Nanog, Sox2, FGF4, and Stella was observed upon treatment of GCNF-/- ES cells with retinoic acid. The loss of repression of pluripotency genes is either a direct or indirect consequence of loss of GCNF. Both the Oct4 and Nanog genes are direct targets of GCNF repression during ES cell differentiation and early mouse embryonic development. In contrast Sox2 and FGF4 are indirectly regulated by GCNF through Oct4. These findings establish a central role for GCNF in the repression of pluripotency gene expression during retinoic acid-induced ES cell differentiation.
Project description:Pluripotency maintenance requires transcription factors (TFs) that induce genes necessary to preserve the undifferentiated state and repress others involved in differentiation. Recent observations support that the heterogeneous distribution of TFs in the nucleus impacts on gene expression. Thus, it is essential to explore how TFs dynamically organize to fully understand their role in transcription regulation. Here, we examine the distribution of pluripotency TFs Oct4 and Sox2 in the nucleus of embryonic stem (ES) cells and inquire whether their organization changes during early differentiation stages preceding their downregulation. Using ES cells expressing Oct4-YPet or Sox2-YPet, we show that Oct4 and Sox2 partition between nucleoplasm and a few chromatin-dense foci which restructure after inducing differentiation by 2i/LIF withdrawal. Fluorescence correlation spectroscopy showed distinct changes in Oct4 and Sox2 dynamics after differentiation induction. Specifically, we detected an impairment of Oct4-chromatin interactions whereas Sox2 only showed slight variations in its short-lived, and probably more unspecific, interactions with chromatin. Our results reveal that differentiation cues trigger early changes of Oct4 and Sox2 nuclear distributions that also include modifications in TF-chromatin interactions. This dynamical reorganization precedes Oct4 and Sox2 downregulation and may contribute to modulate their function at early differentiation stages.
Project description:The regulatory network of factors that center on master transcription factors such as Oct4, Nanog, and Sox2 help maintain embryonic stem (ES) cells and ensure their pluripotency. The target genes of these master transcription factors define the ES cell transcriptional landscape. In this study, we report our findings that Dido1, a target of canonical transcription factors such as Oct4, Sox2, and Nanog, plays an important role in regulating ES cell maintenance. We found that depletion of Dido1 in mouse ES cells led to differentiation, and ectopic expression of Dido1 inhibited differentiation induced by leukemia inhibitory factor withdrawal. We further demonstrated that whereas Nanog and Oct4 could occupy the Dido1 locus and promote its transcription, Dido1 could also target to the loci of pluripotency factors such as Nanog and Oct4 and positively regulate their expression. Through this feedback and feedforward loop, Dido1 is able to regulate self-renewal of mouse ES cells.
Project description:Embryonic stem (ES) cell pluripotency is dependent upon sustained expression of the key transcriptional regulators Oct4, Nanog, and Sox2. Dissection of the regulatory networks downstream of these transcription factors has provided critical insight into the molecular mechanisms that regulate ES cell pluripotency and early differentiation. Here we describe a role for Zic3, a member of the Gli family of zinc finger transcription factors, in the maintenance of pluripotency in ES cells. We show that Zic3 is expressed in ES cells and that this expression is repressed upon differentiation. The expression of Zic3 in pluripotent ES cells is also directly regulated by Oct4, Sox2, and Nanog. Targeted repression of Zic3 in human and mouse ES cells by RNA interference-induced expression of several markers of the endodermal lineage. Notably, the expression of Nanog, a key pluripotency regulator and repressor of extraembryonic endoderm specification in ES cells, was significantly reduced in Zic3 knockdown cells. This suggests that Zic3 may prevent endodermal marker expression through Nanog-regulated pathways. Thus our results extend the ES cell transcriptional network beyond Oct4, Nanog, and Sox2, and further establish that Zic3 plays an important role in the maintenance of pluripotency by preventing endodermal lineage specification in embryonic stem cells.
Project description:NANOG, OCT4 and SOX2 form the core network of transcription factors supporting embryonic stem (ES) cell self-renewal. While OCT4 and SOX2 expression is relatively uniform, ES cells fluctuate between states of high NANOG expression possessing high self-renewal efficiency, and low NANOG expression exhibiting increased differentiation propensity. NANOG, OCT4 and SOX2 are currently considered to activate transcription of each of the three genes, an architecture that cannot readily account for NANOG heterogeneity. Here, we examine the architecture of the Nanog-centred network using inducible NANOG gain- and loss-of-function approaches. Rather than activating itself, Nanog activity is autorepressive and OCT4/SOX2-independent. Moreover, the influence of Nanog on Oct4 and Sox2 expression is minimal. Using Nanog:GFP reporters, we show that Nanog autorepression is a major regulator of Nanog transcription switching. We conclude that the architecture of the pluripotency gene regulatory network encodes the capacity to generate reversible states of Nanog transcription via a Nanog-centred autorepressive loop. Therefore, cellular variability in self-renewal efficiency is an emergent property of the pluripotency gene regulatory network.
Project description:Self-renewal and pluripotency of embryonic stem (ES) cells are maintained by several signaling cascades and by expression of intrinsic factors, such as Oct4, Nanog and Sox2. The mechanism regulating these signaling cascades in ES cells is of great interest. Recently, we have demonstrated that natriuretic peptide receptor A (NPR-A), a specific receptor for atrial and brain natriuretic peptides (ANP and BNP, respectively), is expressed in pre-implantation embryos and in ES cells. Here, we examined whether NPR-A is involved in the maintenance of ES cell pluripotency. RNA interference-mediated knockdown of NPR-A resulted in phenotypic changes, indicative of differentiation, downregulation of pluripotency factors (such as Oct4, Nanog and Sox2) and upregulation of differentiation genes. NPR-A knockdown also resulted in a marked downregulation of phosphorylated Akt. Furthermore, NPR-A knockdown induced accumulation of ES cells in the G1 phase of the cell cycle. Interestingly, we found that ANP was expressed in self-renewing ES cells, whereas its level was reduced after ES cell differentiation. Treatment of ES cells with ANP upregulated the expression of Oct4, Nanog and phosphorylated Akt, and this upregulation depended on NPR-A signaling, because it was completely reversed by pretreatment with either an NPR-A antagonist or a cGMP-dependent protein kinase inhibitor. These findings provide a novel role for NPR-A in the maintenance of self-renewal and pluripotency of ES cells.
Project description:The reprogramming factors that induce pluripotency have been identified primarily from embryonic stem cell (ESC)-enriched, pluripotency-associated factors. Here, we report that, during mouse somatic cell reprogramming, pluripotency can be induced with lineage specifiers that are pluripotency rivals to suppress ESC identity, most of which are not enriched in ESCs. We found that OCT4 and SOX2, the core regulators of pluripotency, can be replaced by lineage specifiers that are involved in mesendodermal (ME) specification and in ectodermal (ECT) specification, respectively. OCT4 and its substitutes attenuated the elevated expression of a group of ECT genes, whereas SOX2 and its substitutes curtailed a group of ME genes during reprogramming. Surprisingly, the two counteracting lineage specifiers can synergistically induce pluripotency in the absence of both OCT4 and SOX2. Our study suggests a "seesaw model" in which a balance that is established using pluripotency factors and/or counteracting lineage specifiers can facilitate reprogramming.
Project description:Nanog is a pivotal transcription factor in embryonic stem (ES) cells and is essential for maintaining the pluripotency and self-renewal of ES cells. SUMOylation has been proved to regulate several stem cell markers' function, such as Oct4 and Sox2. Nanog is strictly regulated by Oct4/Sox2 heterodimer. However, the direct effects of SUMOylation on Nanog expression remain unclear. In this study, we reported that SUMOylation repressed Nanog expression. Depletion of Sumo1 or its conjugating enzyme Ubc9 increased the expression of Nanog, while high SUMOylation reduced its expression. Interestingly, we found that SUMOylation of Oct4 and Sox2 regulated Nanog in an opposing manner. SUMOylation of Oct4 enhanced Nanog expression, while SUMOylated Sox2 inhibited its expression. Moreover, SUMOylation of Oct4 by Pias2 or Sox2 by Pias3 impaired the interaction between Oct4 and Sox2. Taken together, these results indicate that SUMOylation has a negative effect on Nanog expression and provides new insights into the mechanism of SUMO modification involved in ES cells regulation.
Project description:Methodologies to reprogram somatic cells into patient-specific pluripotent cells, which could potentially be used in personalized drug discovery and cell replacement therapies, are currently under development. Oct4 activation is essential for successful reprogramming and pluripotency of embryonic stem (ES) cells, albeit molecular details of Oct4 activation are not completely understood. Here we report that endogenous SAF-A is involved in regulation of Oct4 expression, binds the Oct4 proximal promoter in ES cells, and dissociates from the promoter upon early differentiation induced by LIF withdrawal. Depletion of SAF-A decreases Oct4 expression even in the presence of LIF, and results in an increase of the mesodermal marker Brachyury. The overexpression of wild-type human SAF-A rescues the mouse knock-down phenotype and results in increased Oct4 level. We also demonstrate that endogenous SAF-A interacts with the C-terminal domain (CTD) of endogenous RNA polymerase II and that the interaction is independent of CTD phosphorylation and mRNA. Moreover, we show that SAF-A exist in complexes with transcription factors Sox2 and Oct4 as well as STAT3 in ES cells. The number of endogenous SAF-A:Oct4 and SAF-A:Sox2 complexes decreases upon LIF depletion. These discoveries allow us to propose a model for activation of Oct4 transcription.