Prdm14 promotes germline fate and naive pluripotency by repressing FGF signalling and DNA methylation.
ABSTRACT: Primordial germ cells (PGCs) and somatic cells originate from postimplantation epiblast cells in mice. As pluripotency is lost upon differentiation of somatic lineages, a naive epigenome and the pluripotency network are re-established during PGC development. Here we demonstrate that Prdm14 contributes not only to PGC specification, but also to naive pluripotency in embryonic stem (ES) cells by repressing the DNA methylation machinery and fibroblast growth factor (FGF) signalling. This indicates a critical role for Prdm14 in programming PGCs and promoting pluripotency in ES cells.
Project description:Primordial germ cells (PGCs) are specified from epiblast cells in mice. Genes associated with naive pluripotency are repressed in the transition from inner cell mass to epiblast cells, followed by upregulation after PGC specification. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the reactivation of pluripotency genes are poorly characterized. Here, we exploited the in vitro differentiation of epiblast-like cells (EpiLCs) from embryonic stem cells (ESCs) to elucidate the molecular and epigenetic functions of PR domain-containing 14 (PRDM14). We found that Prdm14 overexpression in EpiLCs induced their conversion to ESC-like cells even in the absence of leukemia inhibitory factor in adherent culture. This was impaired by the loss of Kruppel-like factor 2 and ten-eleven translocation (TET) proteins. Furthermore, PRDM14 recruited OCT3/4 to the enhancer regions of naive pluripotency genes via TET-base excision repair-mediated demethylation. Our results provide evidence that PRDM14 establishes a transcriptional network for naive pluripotency via active DNA demethylation.
Project description:PRDM14 is a crucial regulator of mouse primordial germ cells (mPGCs), epigenetic reprogramming and pluripotency, but its role in the evolutionarily divergent regulatory network of human PGCs (hPGCs) remains unclear. Besides, a previous knockdown study indicated that PRDM14 might be dispensable for human germ cell fate. Here, we decided to use inducible degrons for a more rapid and comprehensive PRDM14 depletion. We show that PRDM14 loss results in significantly reduced specification efficiency and an aberrant transcriptome of hPGC-like cells (hPGCLCs) obtained in vitro from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). Chromatin immunoprecipitation and transcriptomic analyses suggest that PRDM14 cooperates with TFAP2C and BLIMP1 to upregulate germ cell and pluripotency genes, while repressing WNT signalling and somatic markers. Notably, PRDM14 targets are not conserved between mouse and human, emphasising the divergent molecular mechanisms of PGC specification. The effectiveness of degrons for acute protein depletion is widely applicable in various developmental contexts.
Project description:Developmental specification of germ cells lies at the heart of inheritance, as germ cells contain all of the genetic and epigenetic information transmitted between generations. The critical developmental event distinguishing germline from somatic lineages is the differentiation of primordial germ cells (PGCs), precursors of sex-specific gametes that produce an entire organism upon fertilization. Germ cells toggle between uni- and pluripotent states as they exhibit their own 'latent' form of pluripotency. For example, PGCs express a number of transcription factors in common with embryonic stem (ES) cells, including OCT4 (encoded by Pou5f1), SOX2, NANOG and PRDM14 (refs 2, 3, 4). A biochemical mechanism by which these transcription factors converge on chromatin to produce the dramatic rearrangements underlying ES-cell- and PGC-specific transcriptional programs remains poorly understood. Here we identify a novel co-repressor protein, CBFA2T2, that regulates pluripotency and germline specification in mice. Cbfa2t2(-/-) mice display severe defects in PGC maturation and epigenetic reprogramming. CBFA2T2 forms a biochemical complex with PRDM14, a germline-specific transcription factor. Mechanistically, CBFA2T2 oligomerizes to form a scaffold upon which PRDM14 and OCT4 are stabilized on chromatin. Thus, in contrast to the traditional 'passenger' role of a co-repressor, CBFA2T2 functions synergistically with transcription factors at the crossroads of the fundamental developmental plasticity between uni- and pluripotency.
Project description:Nanog, a core pluripotency factor in the inner cell mass of blastocysts, is also expressed in unipotent primordial germ cells (PGCs) in mice, where its precise role is yet unclear. We investigated this in an in vitro model, in which naive pluripotent embryonic stem (ES) cells cultured in basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) and activin A develop as epiblast-like cells (EpiLCs) and gain competence for a PGC-like fate. Consequently, bone morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP4), or ectopic expression of key germline transcription factors Prdm1, Prdm14 and Tfap2c, directly induce PGC-like cells (PGCLCs) in EpiLCs, but not in ES cells. Here we report an unexpected discovery that Nanog alone can induce PGCLCs in EpiLCs, independently of BMP4. We propose that after the dissolution of the naive ES-cell pluripotency network during establishment of EpiLCs, the epigenome is reset for cell fate determination. Indeed, we found genome-wide changes in NANOG-binding patterns between ES cells and EpiLCs, indicating epigenetic resetting of regulatory elements. Accordingly, we show that NANOG can bind and activate enhancers of Prdm1 and Prdm14 in EpiLCs in vitro; BLIMP1 (encoded by Prdm1) then directly induces Tfap2c. Furthermore, while SOX2 and NANOG promote the pluripotent state in ES cells, they show contrasting roles in EpiLCs, as Sox2 specifically represses PGCLC induction by Nanog. This study demonstrates a broadly applicable mechanistic principle for how cells acquire competence for cell fate determination, resulting in the context-dependent roles of key transcription factors during development.
Project description:Blimp1 (Prdm1), the key determinant of primordial germ cells (PGCs), plays a combinatorial role with Prdm14 during PGC specification from postimplantation epiblast cells. They together initiate epigenetic reprogramming in early germ cells toward an underlying pluripotent state, which is equivalent to embryonic stem cells (ESCs). Whereas Prdm14 alone can promote reprogramming and is important for the propagation of the pluripotent state, it is not known whether Blimp1 is similarly involved. By using a genetic approach, we demonstrate that Blimp1 is dispensable for the derivation and maintenance of ESCs and postimplantation epiblast stem cells (epiSCs). Notably, Blimp1 is also dispensable for reprogramming epiSCs to ESCs. Thus, although Blimp1 is obligatory for PGC specification, it is not required for the reversion of epiSCs to ESCs and for their maintenance thereafter. This study suggests that reprogramming, including that of somatic cells to ESCs, may not entail an obligatory route through a Blimp1-positive PGC-like state.
Project description:BACKGROUND:In order to prepare the genome for gametogenesis, primordial germ cells (PGCs) undergo extensive epigenetic reprogramming during migration toward the gonads in mammalian embryos. This includes changes on a genome-wide scale and additionally in females the remodeling of the inactive X-chromosome to enable X-chromosome reactivation (XCR). However, if global remodeling and X-chromosomal remodeling are related, how they occur in PGCs in vivo in relation to their migration progress and which factors are important are unknown. RESULTS:Here we identify the germ cell determinant PR-domain containing protein 14 (PRDM14) as the first known factor that is instrumental for both global reprogramming and X-chromosomal reprogramming in migrating mouse PGCs. We find that global upregulation of the repressive histone H3 lysine 27 trimethylation (H3K27me3) mark is PRDM14 dosage dependent in PGCs of both sexes. When focusing on XCR, we observed that PRDM14 is required for removal of H3K27me3 from the inactive X-chromosome, which, in contrast to global upregulation, takes place progressively along the PGC migration path. Furthermore, we show that global and X-chromosomal reprogramming of H3K27me3 are functionally separable, despite their common regulation by PRDM14. CONCLUSIONS:In summary, here we provide new insight and spatiotemporal resolution to the progression and regulation of epigenome remodeling along mouse PGC migration in vivo and link epigenetic reprogramming to its developmental context.
Project description:Primordial germ cells (PGCs) develop only into sperm and oocytes in vivo. The molecular mechanisms underlying human PGC specification are poorly understood due to inaccessibility of cell materials and lack of in vitro models for tracking the earliest stages of germ cell development. Here, we describe a defined and stepwise differentiation system for inducing pre-migratory PGC-like cells (PGCLCs) from human pluripotent stem cells (PSCs). In response to cytokines, PSCs differentiate first into a heterogeneous mesoderm-like cell population and then into PGCLCs, which exhibit minimal PRDM14 expression. PGC specification in humans is similar to the murine process, with the sequential activation of mesodermal and PGC genes, and the suppression of neural induction and of de novo DNA methylation, suggesting that human PGC formation is induced via epigenesis, the process of germ cell specification via inductive signals from surrounding somatic cells. This study demonstrates that PGC commitment in humans shares key features with that of the mouse, but also highlights key differences, including transcriptional regulation during the early stage of human PGC development (3-6 weeks). A more comprehensive understanding of human germ cell development may lead to methodology for successfully generating PSC-derived gametes for reproductive medicine.
Project description:Prdm14 is a sequence-specific transcriptional regulator of embryonic stem cell (ESC) pluripotency and primordial germ cell (PGC) formation. It exerts its function, at least in part, through repressing genes associated with epigenetic modification and cell differentiation. Here, we show that this repressive function is mediated through an ETO-family co-repressor Mtgr1, which tightly binds to the pre-SET/SET domains of Prdm14 and co-occupies its genomic targets in mouse ESCs. We generated two monobodies, synthetic binding proteins, targeting the Prdm14 SET domain and demonstrate their utility, respectively, in facilitating crystallization and structure determination of the Prdm14-Mtgr1 complex, or as genetically encoded inhibitor of the Prdm14-Mtgr1 interaction. Structure-guided point mutants and the monobody abrogated the Prdm14-Mtgr1 association and disrupted Prdm14's function in mESC gene expression and PGC formation in vitro. Altogether, our work uncovers the molecular mechanism underlying Prdm14-mediated repression and provides renewable reagents for studying and controlling Prdm14 functions.
Project description:Epigenetic reprogramming in early germ cells is critical toward the establishment of totipotency, but investigations of the germline events are intractable. An objective cell culture-based system could provide mechanistic insight on how the key determinants of primordial germ cells (PGCs), including Prdm14, induce reprogramming in germ cells to an epigenetic ground state. Here we show a Prdm14-Klf2 synergistic effect that can accelerate and enhance reversion of mouse epiblast stem cells (epiSCs) to a naive pluripotent state, including X reactivation and DNA demethylation. Notably, Prdm14 alone has little effect on epiSC reversion, but it enhances the competence for reprogramming and potentially PGC specification. Reprogramming of epiSCs by the combinatorial effect of Prdm14-Klf2 involves key epigenetic changes, which might have an analogous role in PGCs. Our study provides a paradigm toward a systematic analysis of how other key genes contribute to complex and dynamic events of reprogramming in the germline.
Project description:Transitions in cell states are controlled by combinatorial actions of transcription factors. BLIMP1, the key regulator of primordial germ cell (PGC) specification, apparently acts together with PRDM14 and AP2?. To investigate their individual and combinatorial functions, we first sought an in vitro system for transcriptional readouts and chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing analysis. We then integrated this data with information from single-cell transcriptome analysis of normal and mutant PGCs. Here we show that BLIMP1 binds directly to repress somatic and cell proliferation genes. It also directly induces AP2?, which together with PRDM14 initiates the PGC-specific fate. We determined the occupancy of critical genes by AP2?-which, when computed altogether with those of BLIMP1 and PRDM14 (both individually and cooperatively), reveals a tripartite mutually interdependent transcriptional network for PGCs. We also demonstrate that, in principle, BLIMP1, AP2? and PRDM14 are sufficient for PGC specification, and the unprecedented resetting of the epigenome towards a basal state.