MiR-135b is a direct PAX6 target and specifies human neuroectoderm by inhibiting TGF-?/BMP signaling.
ABSTRACT: 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.
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: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:The LIM homeobox 2 transcription factor Lhx2 is known to control crucial aspects of neural development in various species. However, its function in human neural development is still elusive. Here, we demonstrate that LHX2 plays a critical role in human neural differentiation, using human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) as a model. In hESC-derived neural progenitors (hESC-NPs), LHX2 was found to be expressed before PAX6, and co-expressed with early neural markers. Conditional ectopic expression of LHX2 promoted neural differentiation, whereas disruption of LHX2 expression in hESCs significantly impaired neural differentiation. Furthermore, we have demonstrated that LHX2 regulates neural differentiation at two levels: first, it promotes expression of PAX6 by binding to its active enhancers, and second, it attenuates BMP and WNT signaling by promoting expression of the BMP and WNT antagonist Cerberus 1 gene (CER1), to inhibit non-neural differentiation. These findings indicate that LHX2 regulates the transcription of downstream intrinsic and extrinsic molecules that are essential for early neural differentiation in human.
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: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:Under defined differentiation conditions human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) can be directed toward a mesendodermal (ME) or neuroectoderm (NE) fate, the first decision during hESC differentiation. Coupled with G1 lengthening a divergent ciliation pattern emerged within the first 24 hours of induced lineage specification and these changes heralded a neuroectoderm decision before any neural precursor markers were expressed. By day 2, increased ciliation in NE precursors induced autophagy that resulted in the inactivation of Nrf2. Nrf2 binds directly to upstream regions of the OCT4 and NANOG genes to promote their expression and represses NE derivation. Nrf2 suppression was sufficient to rescue poorly neurogenic iPSC lines. Only after these events have been initiated do neural precursor markers get expressed at day 4. Thus we have identified a primary cilium-autophagy-Nrf2 (PAN) axis coupled to cell cycle progression that directs hESCs toward NE. Transcriptome analysis of hESC-derived neuroectoderm and mesendoderm cells
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:Under defined differentiation conditions human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) can be directed toward a mesendodermal (ME) or neuroectoderm (NE) fate, the first decision during hESC differentiation. Coupled with G1 lengthening a divergent ciliation pattern emerged within the first 24 hours of induced lineage specification and these changes heralded a neuroectoderm decision before any neural precursor markers were expressed. By day 2, increased ciliation in NE precursors induced autophagy that resulted in the inactivation of Nrf2. Nrf2 binds directly to upstream regions of the OCT4 and NANOG genes to promote their expression and represses NE derivation. Nrf2 suppression was sufficient to rescue poorly neurogenic iPSC lines. Only after these events have been initiated do neural precursor markers get expressed at day 4. Thus we have identified a primary cilium-autophagy-Nrf2 (PAN) axis coupled to cell cycle progression that directs hESCs toward NE. Overall design: Transcriptome analysis of hESC-derived neuroectoderm and mesendoderm cells
Project description:We reveal by high-throughput screening that activating transcription factor 1 (ATF1) is a novel pluripotent regulator in human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). The knockdown of ATF1 expression significantly up-regulated neuroectoderm (NE) genes but not mesoderm, endoderm, and trophectoderm genes. Of note, down-regulation or knockout of ATF1 with short hairpin RNA (shRNA), small interfering RNA (siRNA), or clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated protein 9 (Cas9) was sufficient to up-regulate sex-determining region Y-box (SOX)2 and paired box 6 (PAX6) expression under the undifferentiated or differentiated conditions, whereas overexpression of ATF1 suppressed NE differentiation. Endogenous ATF1 was spontaneously down-regulated after d 1-3 of neural induction. By double-knockdown experiments, up-regulation of SOX2 was critical for the increase of PAX6 and SOX1 expression in shRNA targeting Atf1 hESCs. Using the luciferase reporter assay, we identified ATF1 as a negative transcriptional regulator of Sox2 gene expression. A novel function of ATF1 was discovered, and these findings contribute to a broader understanding of the very first steps in regulating NE differentiation in hESCs.-Yang, S.-C., Liu, J.-J., Wang, C.-K., Lin, Y.-T., Tsai, S.-Y., Chen, W.-J., Huang, W.-K., Tu, P.-W. A., Lin, Y.-C., Chang, C.-F., Cheng, C.-L., Lin, H., Lai, C.-Y., Lin, C.-Y., Lee, Y.-H., Chiu, Y.-C., Hsu, C.-C., Hsu, S.-C., Hsiao, M., Schuyler, S. C., Lu, F. L., Lu, J. Down-regulation of ATF1 leads to early neuroectoderm differentiation of human embryonic stem cells by increasing the expression level of SOX2.
Project description:T-box 3 (Tbx3) is a member of the T-box family of genes. Mutations that result in the haploinsufficiency of TBX3 cause ulnar mammary syndrome in humans characterized by mammary gland hypoplasia as well as other congenital defects. In mice, homozygous mutations are embryonic lethal, suggesting that Tbx3 is essential for embryo development. Studies in mice have shown that Tbx3 is essential in the maintenance of mouse embryonic stem cell (ESC) self-renewal and in their differentiation into extraembryonic endoderm (ExEn). The role TBX3 plays in regulating human ESCs (hESCs) has not been explored. Since mouse and hESCs are known to represent distinct pluripotent states, it is important to address the role of TBX3 in hESC self-renewal and differentiation. Using overexpression and knockdown strategies, we found that TBX3 overexpression promotes hESC proliferation possibly by repressing the expression of both NF?BIB and p14(ARF) , known cell cycle regulators. During differentiation, TBX3 knockdown resulted in decreased neural rosette formation and in decreased expression of neuroepithelial and neuroectoderm markers (PAX6, LHX2, FOXG1, and RAX). Taken together, our data suggest a role for TBX3 in hESC proliferation and reveal an unrecognized novel role of TBX3 in promoting neuroepithelial differentiation. Our results suggest that TBX3 plays distinct roles in regulating self-renewal and differentiation in both hESCs and mouse ESCs.