The self-renewal of mouse embryonic stem cells is regulated by cell-substratum adhesion and cell spreading.
ABSTRACT: Mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) undergo self-renewal in the presence of the cytokine, leukaemia inhibitory factor (LIF). Following LIF withdrawal, mESCs differentiate, and this is accompanied by an increase in cell-substratum adhesion and cell spreading. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between cell spreading and mESC differentiation. Using E14 and R1 mESC lines, we have restricted cell spreading in the absence of LIF by either culturing mESCs on chemically defined, weakly adhesive biomaterial substrates, or by manipulating the cytoskeleton. We demonstrate that by restricting the degree of spreading by either method, mESCs can be maintained in an undifferentiated and pluripotent state. Under these conditions, self-renewal occurs without the need for LIF and is independent of nuclear translocation of tyrosine-phosphorylated STAT3 or ?-catenin, which have previously been implicated in self-renewal. We also demonstrate that the effect of restricted cell spreading on mESC self-renewal is not mediated by increased intercellular adhesion, as evidenced by the observations that inhibition of mESC adhesion using a function blocking anti E-cadherin antibody or siRNA do not promote differentiation. These results show that mESC spreading and differentiation are regulated both by LIF and by cell-substratum adhesion, consistent with the hypothesis that cell spreading is the common intermediate step in the regulation of mESC differentiation by either LIF or cell-substratum adhesion.
Project description:The Wnt/?-catenin signaling pathway is a key regulator of embryonic stem cell (ESC) self-renewal and differentiation. Constitutive activation of this pathway has been shown to increase mouse ESC (mESC) self-renewal and pluripotency gene expression. In this study, we generated a novel ?-catenin knockout model in mESCs to delete putatively functional N-terminally truncated isoforms observed in previous knockout models. We showed that aberrant N-terminally truncated isoforms are not functional in mESCs. In the generated knockout line, we observed that canonical Wnt signaling is not active, as ?-catenin ablation does not alter mESC transcriptional profile in serum/LIF culture conditions. In addition, we observed that Wnt signaling activation represses mESC spontaneous differentiation in a ?-catenin-dependent manner. Finally, ?-catenin (?C) isoforms can rescue ?-catenin knockout self-renewal defects in mESCs cultured in serum-free medium and, albeit transcriptionally silent, cooperate with TCF1 and LEF1 to inhibit mESC spontaneous differentiation in a GSK3-dependent manner.
Project description:Activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (Stat3) by leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) is required for maintaining self-renewal and pluripotency of mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs). Here, we have confirmed transcription factor Forkhead Box m1 (Foxm1) as a LIF/Stat3 downstream target that mediates LIF/Stat3-dependent mESC self-renewal. The expression of Foxm1 relies on LIF signaling and is stimulated by Stat3 directly in mESCs. The knockdown of Foxm1 results in the loss of mESC pluripotency in the presence of LIF, and the overexpression of Foxm1 alone maintains mESC pluripotency in the absence of LIF and feeder layers, indicating that Foxm1 is a mediator of LIF/Stat3-dependent maintenance of pluripotency in mESCs. Furthermore, the inhibition of Foxm1 expression prevents the reprogramming of mouse embryonic fibroblasts to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), suggesting that Foxm1 is essential for the reprogramming of somatic cells into iPSCs. Our results reveal an essential function of Foxm1 in the LIF/Stat3-mediated mESC self-renewal and the generation of iPSCs.
Project description:Maintaining undifferentiated mouse embryonic stem cell (mESC) culture has been a major challenge as mESCs cultured in Leukemia Inhibitory Factor (LIF) conditions exhibit spontaneous differentiation, fluctuating expression of pluripotency genes, and genes of specialized cells. Here we show that, in sharp contrast to the mESCs seeded on the conventional rigid substrates, the mESCs cultured on the soft substrates that match the intrinsic stiffness of the mESCs and in the absence of exogenous LIF for 5 days, surprisingly still generated homogeneous undifferentiated colonies, maintained high levels of Oct3/4, Nanog, and Alkaline Phosphatase (AP) activities, and formed embryoid bodies and teratomas efficiently. A different line of mESCs, cultured on the soft substrates without exogenous LIF, maintained the capacity of generating homogeneous undifferentiated colonies with relatively high levels of Oct3/4 and AP activities, up to at least 15 passages, suggesting that this soft substrate approach applies to long term culture of different mESC lines. mESC colonies on these soft substrates without LIF generated low cell-matrix tractions and low stiffness. Both tractions and stiffness of the colonies increased with substrate stiffness, accompanied by downregulation of Oct3/4 expression. Our findings demonstrate that mESC self-renewal and pluripotency can be maintained homogeneously on soft substrates via the biophysical mechanism of facilitating generation of low cell-matrix tractions.
Project description:Activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) by leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) maintains mouse embryonic stem cell (mESC) self-renewal. Our previous study showed that trans-acting transcription factor 5 (Sp5), an LIF/STAT3 downstream target, supports mESC self-renewal. However, the mechanism by which Sp5 exerts these effects remains elusive. Here, we found that Nanog is a direct target of Sp5 and mediates the self-renewal-promoting effect of Sp5 in mESCs. Overexpression of Sp5 induced Nanog expression, while knockdown or knockout of Sp5 decreased the Nanog level. Moreover, chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays showed that Sp5 directly bound to the Nanog promoter. Functional studies revealed that knockdown of Nanog eliminated the mESC self-renewal-promoting ability of Sp5. Finally, we demonstrated that the self-renewal-promoting function of Sp5 was largely dependent on its zinc finger domains. Taken together, our study provides unrecognized functions of Sp5 in mESCs and will expand our current understanding of the regulation of mESC pluripotency.
Project description:Stat3 is essential for mouse embryonic stem cell (mESC) self-renewal mediated by LIF/gp130 receptor signaling. Current understanding of Stat3-mediated ESC self-renewal mechanisms is very limited, and has heretofore been dominated by the view that Stat3 signaling functions in a binary "on/off" manner. Here, in contrast to this binary viewpoint, we demonstrate a contextual, rheostat-like mechanism for Stat3's function in mESCs. Activation and expression levels determine whether Stat3 functions in a self-renewal or a differentiation role in mESCs. We also show that Stat3 induces rapid differentiation of mESCs toward the trophectoderm (TE) lineage when its activation level exceeds certain thresholds. Stat3 induces this differentiation phenotype via induction of Tfap2c and its downstream target Cdx2. Our findings provide a novel concept in the realm of Stat3, self-renewal signaling, and pluripotent stem cell biology. Ultimately, this finding may facilitate the development of conditions for the establishment of authentic non-rodent ESCs.
Project description:The role of extrinsic factors in maintaining self-renewal of embryonic stem cells (ESCs) has been extensively studied since the cells' isolation, but the necessity for cell-secreted factors in self-renewal has remained undefined to date. Although it is generally accepted that addition of leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) together with either serum or bone morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP4) is sufficient to maintain mouse ESCs (mESCs) in a self-renewing state, this does not preclude the possibility that autocrine factors are also required. Here we make use of a microfluidic perfusion device that is able to globally diminish diffusible autocrine signaling by applying continuous media flow to deplete cell-secreted factors. We demonstrate mESC culture for several days under continuous microfluidic perfusion and show that cell-secreted factors are removed and can be recovered downstream. We find that perturbing cell-secreted signaling causes mESCs to exit their stable self-renewing state in defined conditions that normally support self-renewal and to exhibit properties characteristic of epiblast cells. This state change is not due to the presence of the known autocrine differentiation inducer fibroblast growth factor 4, but, remarkably, it can be prevented by global remodeling of the extracellular matrix (ECM). We also find that cell-secreted matrix remodeling proteins are removed under perfusion and that inhibition of extracellular matrix remodeling causes mESCs to differentiate. Taken together, our data indicate that LIF and BMP4 are not sufficient to maintain self-renewal and that cell-secreted factors are necessary to continuously remodel the ECM and thereby prevent differentiation, revealing a previously undescribed level of mESC regulation through the use of microfluidic perfusion technology.
Project description:The TET family of FE(II) and 2-oxoglutarate-dependent enzymes (Tet1/2/3) promote DNA demethylation by converting 5-methylcytosine to 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC), which they further oxidize into 5-formylcytosine and 5-carboxylcytosine. Tet1 is robustly expressed in mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) and has been implicated in mESC maintenance. Here we demonstrate that, unlike genetic deletion, RNAi-mediated depletion of Tet1 in mESCs led to a significant reduction in 5hmC and loss of mESC identity. The differentiation phenotype due to Tet1 depletion positively correlated with the extent of 5hmC loss. Meta-analyses of genomic data sets suggested interaction between Tet1 and leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) signaling. LIF signaling is known to promote self-renewal and pluripotency in mESCs partly by opposing MAPK/ERK-mediated differentiation. Withdrawal of LIF leads to differentiation of mESCs. We discovered that Tet1 depletion impaired LIF-dependent Stat3-mediated gene activation by affecting Stat3's ability to bind to its target sites on chromatin. Nanog overexpression or inhibition of MAPK/ERK signaling, both known to maintain mESCs in the absence of LIF, rescued Tet1 depletion, further supporting the dependence of LIF/Stat3 signaling on Tet1. These data support the conclusion that analysis of mESCs in the hours/days immediately following efficient Tet1 depletion reveals Tet1's normal physiological role in maintaining the pluripotent state that may be subject to homeostatic compensation in genetic models.
Project description:Self-renewal of embryonic stem cells (ESCs) is essential for maintenance of pluripotency, which is defined as the ability to differentiate into any specialised cell type comprising the adult organism. Understanding the mechanisms that regulate ESC self-renewal and proliferation is required before ESCs can fulfil their potential in regenerative therapies, and murine ESCs (mESCs) have been widely used as a model. Members of the class-IA phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) family of lipid kinases regulate a variety of physiological responses, including cell migration, proliferation and survival. PI3Ks have been reported to regulate both proliferation and self-renewal of mESCs. Here we investigate the contribution of specific class-IA PI3K isoforms to the regulation of mESC fate using small-molecule inhibitors with selectivity for particular class-IA PI3K catalytic isoforms, and siRNA-mediated knockdown. Pharmacological inhibition or knockdown of p110beta promoted mESC differentiation, accompanied by a decrease in expression of Nanog. By comparison, pharmacological inhibition or siRNA-mediated knockdown of p110alpha had no effect on mESC self-renewal per se, but instead appeared to reduce proliferation, which was accompanied by inhibition of leukaemia inhibitory factor (LIF) and insulin-induced PI3K signalling. Our results suggest that PI3Ks contribute to the regulation of both mESC pluripotency and proliferation by differential coupling to selected p110 catalytic isoforms.
Project description:Activation of leukemia inhibitor factor (LIF)-Stat3 or Wnt/?-catenin signaling promotes mouse embryonic stem cell (mESC) self-renewal. A myriad of downstream targets have been identified in the individual signal pathways, but their common targets remain largely elusive. In this study, we found that the LIF-Stat3 and Wnt/?-catenin signaling pathways converge on Sp5 to promote mESC self-renewal. Forced Sp5 expression can reproduce partial effects of Wnt/?-catenin signaling but mimics most features of LIF-Stat3 signaling to maintain undifferentiated mESCs. Moreover, Sp5 is able to convert mouse epiblast stem cells into a naïve pluripotent state. Thus, Sp5 is an important component of the regulatory network governing mESC naïve pluripotency.
Project description:Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells (mESCs) are unique in their self-renewal and pluripotency. Hypothetically, mESCs model gestational stress effects or stresses of in vitro fertilization/assisted reproductive technologies or drug/environmental exposures that endanger embryos. Testing mESCs stress responses should diminish and expedite in vivo embryo screening. Transgenic mESCs for green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporters of differentiation use the promoter for platelet-derived growth factor receptor (Pdgfr)a driving GFP expression to monitor hyperosmotic stress-forced mESC proliferation decrease (stunting), and differentiation increase that further stunts mESC population growth. In differentiating mESCs Pdgfra marks the first-lineage extraembryonic primitive endoderm (ExEndo). Hyperosmotic stress forces mESC differentiation gain (Pdgfra-GFP) in monolayer or three-dimensional embryoid bodies. Despite culture with potency-maintaining leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF), stress forces ExEndo as assayed using microplate readers and validated by coexpression of Pdgfra-GFP, Disabled 2 (Dab2), and laminin by immunofluorescence and GFP protein and Dab2 by immunoblot. In agreement with previous reports, Rex1 and Oct4 loss was inversely proportional to increased Pdgfra-GFP mESC after treatment with high hyperosmotic sorbitol despite LIF. The increase in subpopulations of Pdgfra-GFP<sup>+</sup> cells>background at ?23% was similar to the previously reported ?25% increase in Rex1-red fluorescent protein (RFP)-negative subpopulation at matched high sorbitol doses. By microplate reader, there is a ?7-11-fold increase in GFP at a high nonmorbid and a morbid dose despite LIF, compared with LIF alone. By flow cytometry (FACS), the subpopulation of Pdgfra-GFP<sup>+</sup> cells>background increases ?8-16-fold at these doses. Taken together, the microplate, FACS, immunoblot, and immunofluorescence data suggest that retinoic acid or hyperosmotic stress forces dose-dependent differentiation whether LIF is present or not and this is negatively correlated with and possibly compensates for stress-forced diminished ESC population expansion and potency loss.