Continuous hypoxic culturing of human embryonic stem cells enhances SSEA-3 and MYC levels.
ABSTRACT: Low oxygen tension (hypoxia) contributes critically to pluripotency of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) by preventing spontaneous differentiation and supporting self-renewal. However, it is not well understood how hESCs respond to reduced oxygen availability and what are the molecular mechanisms maintaining pluripotency in these conditions. In this study we characterized the transcriptional and molecular responses of three hESC lines (H9, HS401 and HS360) on short (2 hours), intermediate (24 hours) and prolonged (7 days) exposure to low oxygen conditions (4% O2). In response to prolonged hypoxia the expression of pluripotency surface marker SSEA-3 was increased. Furthermore, the genome wide gene-expression analysis revealed that a substantial proportion (12%) of all hypoxia-regulated genes in hESCs, were directly linked to the mechanisms controlling pluripotency or differentiation. Moreover, transcription of MYC oncogene was induced in response to continuous hypoxia. At the protein level MYC was stabilized through phosphorylation already in response to a short hypoxic exposure. Total MYC protein levels remained elevated throughout all the time points studied. Further, MYC protein expression in hypoxia was affected by silencing HIF2?, but not HIF1?. Since MYC has a crucial role in regulating pluripotency we propose that induction of sustained MYC expression in hypoxia contributes to activation of transcriptional programs critical for hESC self-renewal and maintenance of enhanced pluripotent state.
Project description:Glycolysis and hypoxia are key regulators of human embryonic stem cell (hESC) self-renewal, but how changes in metabolism affect gene expression is poorly understood. C-terminal binding proteins (CTBPs) are glycolytic sensors that through NADH binding link the metabolic state of the cell to its gene expression, by acting as transcriptional corepressors, or coactivators. However, the role of CTBPs in hESCs has not previously been investigated. A direct interaction between hypoxia-inducible factor 2α (HIF-2α) and the CTBP proximal promoters in hESCs cultured only under hypoxia was demonstrated. Decreasing the rate of flux through glycolysis in hESCs maintained under hypoxia resulted in a reduction of CTBPs, OCT4, SOX2, and NANOG, but also in the expression of HIF-2α. Silencing CTBP expression resulted in the loss of pluripotency marker expression demonstrating that CTBPs are involved in hESC maintenance. These data suggest that under hypoxia, glycolysis regulates self-renewal through HIF-2α and the induction of the metabolic sensors CTBPs.
Project description:Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are known players in the regulatory circuitry of the self-renewal in human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). However, most hESC-specific lncRNAs remain uncharacterized. Here we demonstrate that growth-arrest-specific transcript 5 (GAS5), a known tumour suppressor and growth arrest-related lncRNA, is highly expressed and directly regulated by pluripotency factors OCT4 and SOX2 in hESCs. Phenotypic analysis shows that GAS5 knockdown significantly impairs hESC self-renewal, but its overexpression significantly promotes hESC self-renewal. Using RNA sequencing and functional analysis, we demonstrate that GAS5 maintains NODAL signalling by protecting NODAL expression from miRNA-mediated degradation. Therefore, we propose that the above pluripotency factors, GAS5 and NODAL form a feed-forward signalling loop that maintains hESC self-renewal. As this regulatory function of GAS5 is stem cell specific, our findings also indicate that the functions of lncRNAs may vary in different cell types due to competing endogenous mechanisms.
Project description:Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) have the capacity to differentiate into all cell types and thus have great potential for regenerative medicine. hESCs cultured at low oxygen tensions are more pluripotent and display an increased glycolytic rate but how this is regulated is unknown. This study therefore aimed to investigate the regulation of glucose metabolism in hESCs and whether this might impact OCT4 expression. In contrast to the glucose transporter GLUT1, GLUT3 was regulated by environmental oxygen and localised to hESC membranes. Silencing GLUT3 caused a reduction in glucose uptake and lactate production as well as OCT4 expression. GLUT3 and OCT4 expression were correlated suggesting that hESC self-renewal is regulated by the rate of glucose uptake. Surprisingly, PKM2, a rate limiting enzyme of glycolysis displayed a nuclear localisation in hESCs and silencing PKM2 did not alter glucose metabolism suggesting a role other than as a glycolytic enzyme. PKM2 expression was increased in hESCs cultured at 5% oxygen compared to 20% oxygen and silencing PKM2 reduced OCT4 expression highlighting a transcriptional role for PKM2 in hESCs. Together, these data demonstrate two separate mechanisms by which genes regulating glucose uptake and metabolism are involved in the hypoxic support of pluripotency in hESCs.
Project description:Pluripotency and self-renewal of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) is mediated by a complex interplay between extra- and intracellular signaling pathways, which regulate the expression of pluripotency-specific transcription factors. The homeodomain transcription factor NANOG plays a central role in maintaining hESC pluripotency, but the precise role and regulation of NANOG are not well defined.To facilitate the study of NANOG expression and regulation in viable hESC cultures, we generated fluorescent NANOG reporter cell lines by gene targeting in hESCs. In these reporter lines, the fluorescent reporter gene was co-expressed with endogenous NANOG and responded to experimental induction or repression of the NANOG promoter with appropriate changes in expression levels. Furthermore, NANOG reporter lines facilitated the separation of hESC populations based on NANOG expression levels and their subsequent characterization. Gene expression arrays on isolated hESC subpopulations revealed genes with differential expression in NANOG(high) and NANOG(low) hESCs, providing candidates for NANOG downstream targets hESCs.The newly derived NANOG reporter hESC lines present novel tools to visualize NANOG expression in viable hESCs. In future applications, these reporter lines can be used to elucidate the function and regulation of NANOG in pluripotent hESCs.
Project description:The rate of glycolytic metabolism changes during differentiation of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and reprogramming of somatic cells to pluripotency. However, the functional contribution of glycolytic metabolism to the pluripotent state is unclear. Here we show that naive hESCs exhibit increased glycolytic flux, MYC transcriptional activity, and nuclear N-MYC localization relative to primed hESCs. This status is consistent with the inner cell mass of human blastocysts, where MYC transcriptional activity is higher than in primed hESCs and nuclear N-MYC levels are elevated. Reduction of glycolysis decreases self-renewal of naive hESCs and feeder-free primed hESCs, but not primed hESCs grown in feeder-supported conditions. Reduction of glycolysis in feeder-free primed hESCs also enhances neural specification. These findings reveal associations between glycolytic metabolism and human naive pluripotency and differences in the metabolism of feeder-/feeder-free cultured hESCs. They may also suggest methods for regulating self-renewal and initial cell fate specification of hESCs.
Project description:We have developed a synthetic polymer interface for the long-term self-renewal of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) in defined media. We successfully cultured hESCs on hydrogel interfaces of aminopropylmethacrylamide (APMAAm) for over 20 passages in chemically-defined mTeSR™1 media and demonstrated pluripotency of multiple hESC lines with immunostaining and quantitative RT-PCR studies. Results for hESC proliferation and pluripotency markers were both qualitatively and quantitatively similar to cells cultured on Matrigel™-coated substrates. Mechanistically, it was resolved that bovine serum albumin (BSA) in the mTeSR™1 media was critical for cell adhesion on APMAAm hydrogel interfaces. This study uniquely identified a robust long-term culture surface for the self-renewal of hESCs without the use of biologic coatings (e.g., peptides, proteins, or Matrigel™) in completely chemically-defined media that employed practical culturing techniques amenable to clinical-scale cell expansion.
Project description:Adult stem cells reside in hypoxic niches, and embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are derived from a low oxygen environment. However, it is not clear whether hypoxia is critical for stem cell fate since for example human ESCs (hESCs) are able to self-renew in atmospheric oxygen concentrations as well. We now show that hypoxia can govern cell fate decisions since hypoxia alone can revert hESC- or iPSC-derived differentiated cells back to a stem cell-like state, as evidenced by re-activation of an Oct4-promoter reporter. Hypoxia-induced "de-differentiated" cells also mimic hESCs in their morphology, long-term self-renewal capacity, genome-wide mRNA and miRNA profiles, Oct4 promoter methylation state, cell surface markers TRA1-60 and SSEA4 expression, and capacity to form teratomas. These data demonstrate that hypoxia can influence cell fate decisions and could elucidate hypoxic niche function.
Project description:Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) are unique pluripotent cells capable of self-renewal and differentiation into all three germ layers. To date, more cell surface markers capable of reliably identifying hESCs are needed. The epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM) is a type I transmembrane glycoprotein expressed in several progenitor cell populations and cancers. It has been used to enrich cells with tumor-initiating activity in xenograft transplantation studies. Here, we comprehensively profile the expression of EpCAM by immunofluorescence microscopy, Western blotting, and flow cytometry using an anti-EpCAM monoclonal antibody (mAb) OC98-1. We found EpCAM to be highly and selectively expressed by undifferentiated rather than differentiated hESCs. The protein and transcript level of EpCAM rapidly diminished as soon as hESC had differentiated. This silencing was closely and exclusively associated with the radical transformation of histone modification at the EpCAM promoter. Moreover, we demonstrated that the dynamic pattern of lysine 27 trimethylation of histone 3 was conferred by the interplay of SUZ12 and JMJD3, both of which were involved in maintaining hESC pluripotency. In addition, we used chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis to elucidate the direct regulation by EpCAM of several reprogramming genes, including c-MYC, OCT-4, NANOG, SOX2, and KLF4, to help maintain the undifferentiation of hESCs. Collectively, our results suggest that EpCAM might be used as a surface marker for hESC. The expression of EpCAM may be regulated by epigenetic mechanisms, and it is strongly associated with the maintenance of the undifferentiated state of hESCs.
Project description:Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) exhibit high levels of proteasome activity, an intrinsic characteristic required for their self-renewal, pluripotency and differentiation. However, the mechanisms by which enhanced proteasome activity maintains hESC identity are only partially understood. Besides its essential role for the ability of hESCs to suppress misfolded protein aggregation, we hypothesize that enhanced proteasome activity could also be important to degrade endogenous regulatory factors. Since E3 ubiquitin ligases are responsible for substrate selection, we first define which E3 enzymes are increased in hESCs compared with their differentiated counterparts. Among them, we find HECT-domain E3 ligases such as HERC2 and UBE3A as well as several RING-domain E3s, including UBR7 and RNF181. Systematic characterization of their interactome suggests a link with hESC identity. Moreover, loss of distinct up-regulated E3s triggers significant changes at the transcriptome and proteome level of hESCs. However, these alterations do not dysregulate pluripotency markers and differentiation ability. On the contrary, global proteasome inhibition impairs diverse processes required for hESC identity, including protein synthesis, rRNA maturation, telomere maintenance and glycolytic metabolism. Thus, our data indicate that high proteasome activity is coupled with other determinant biological processes of hESC identity.
Project description:To realize the full potential of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), it is important to develop culture conditions that maintain hESCs in a pluripotent, undifferentiated state. A low O(2) atmosphere (approximately 4% O(2)), for example, prevents spontaneous differentiation and supports self-renewal of hESCs. To identify genes whose expression is sensitive to O(2) conditions, microarray analysis was performed on RNA from hESCs that had been maintained under either 4% or 20% O(2). Of 149 genes differentially expressed, 42 were up-regulated and 107 down-regulated under 20% O(2). Several of the down-regulated genes are most likely under the control of hypoxia-inducing factors and include genes encoding enzymes involved in carbohydrate catabolism and cellular redox state. Although genes associated with pluripotency, including OCT4, SOX2, and NANOG were generally unaffected, some genes controlled by these transcription factors, including LEFTY2, showed lowered expression under 20% O(2), while a few genes implicated in lineage specification were up-regulated. Although the differences between O(2) conditions were generally subtle, they were observed in two different hESC lines and at different passage numbers. The data are consistent with the hypothesis that 4% O(2) favors the molecular mechanisms required for the maintenance of pluripotency.