Human primordial germ cell commitment in vitro associates with a unique PRDM14 expression profile.
ABSTRACT: 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 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: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:The precise control of gene expression by transcription factor networks is crucial to organismal development. The predominant approach for mapping transcription factor-chromatin interactions has been chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP). However, ChIP requires a large number of homogeneous cells and antisera with high specificity. A second approach, DamID, has the drawback that high levels of Dam methylase are toxic. Here, we modify our targeted DamID approach (TaDa) to enable cell type-specific expression in mammalian systems, generating an inducible system (mammalian TaDa or MaTaDa) to identify genome-wide protein/DNA interactions in 100 to 1000 times fewer cells than ChIP-based approaches. We mapped the binding sites of two key pluripotency factors, OCT4 and PRDM14, in mouse embryonic stem cells, epiblast-like cells and primordial germ cell-like cells (PGCLCs). PGCLCs are an important system for elucidating primordial germ cell development in mice. We monitored PRDM14 binding during the specification of PGCLCs, identifying direct targets of PRDM14 that are key to understanding its crucial role in PGCLC development. We show that MaTaDa is a sensitive and accurate method for assessing cell type-specific transcription factor binding in limited numbers of cells.
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:BACKGROUND:In mammals, specification of primordial germ cells (PGCs) is established in the early post-implantation embryo. The bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-SMAD and WNT3-?-catenin signaling initiate the gene regulatory network for PGC specification. The activation of SOX17-BLIMP1 axis is critical for human PGC program. Moreover, EpCAM and INTEGRIN?6 were identified as surface markers of human PGC-like cells (PGCLCs) recently. However, the signaling mechanism for PGC specification in non-rodent mammals remains to be clarified. METHODS:We differentiated human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) into PGCLCs in vitro in response to Activin A and BMP4. The percentage of EpCAM/INTEGRIN?6 double-positive cells (PGCLCs) was analyzed by flow cytometry. The expression of PGC genes was evaluated by qRT-PCR and immunofluorescence. The expression dynamic of multi-lineage genes during the differentiation process was evaluated by qRT-PCR. RESULTS:Under the stimulation for PGCLC induction, the embryoids derived from hiPSCs initiated significant upregulation of the early PGC genes (BLIMP1, TFAP2C, and NANOS3), but maintained low or no levels of DPPA3 and late PGC genes (DAZL and DDX4). The percentage of EpCAM/INTEGRIN?6 double-positive PGCLCs reached the highest at day 6 of induction. After pre-induction, the incipient mesoderm-like cells (iMeLCs) upregulated most of the mesoderm genes (EOMES, T, MSXI, RUNX2, and MIXL1). The differentiating embryoids showed high levels of key pluripotency genes, OCT4 and NANOG, but became negative for SOX2. In contrast to iMeLCs, the differentiating embryoids downregulated mesoderm genes RUNX2 and EOMES, and ectoderm gene PAX6, but increased the expression of endoderm gene SOX17. CONCLUSIONS:During PGCLC induction process in vitro, the differentiating embryoids not only activated the PGC-related genes, but also displayed complex regulation of pluripotency genes and multi-lineage genes. These results would be meaningful for future research investigating the regulation of human early germ line development.
Project description:The ability to generate germ cells from pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) is valuable for human regenerative medicine and animal breeding. Germ cell-like cells (GCLCs) have been differentiated from mouse and human PSCs, but not from porcine PSCs, which are considered an ideal model for stem cell applications. Here, we developed a defined culture system for the induction of primordial germ cell-like cells (PGCLCs) from porcine induced PSCs (piPSCs). The identity of the PGCLCs was characterized by observing cell morphology, detecting germ cell marker gene expression and evaluating epigenetic properties. PGCLCs could further differentiate into spermatogonial stem cell-like cells (SSCLCs) in vitro. Importantly, meiosis occurred during SSCLC induction. Xenotransplantation of GCLCs into seminiferous tubules of infertile immunodeficient mice resulted in immunohistochemically identifiable germ cells in vivo. Overall, our study provides a feasible strategy for directing piPSCs to the germ cell fate and lays a foundation for exploring germ cell development mechanisms.
Project description:The mechanism for sex determination in mammalian germ cells remains unclear. Here, we reconstitute the female sex determination in mouse germ cells in vitro under a defined condition without the use of gonadal somatic cells. We show that retinoic acid (RA) and its key effector, STRA8, are not sufficient to induce the female germ-cell fate. In contrast, bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) and RA synergistically induce primordial germ cells (PGCs)/PGC-like cells (PGCLCs) derived from embryonic stem cells (ESCs) into fetal primary oocytes. The induction is characterized by entry into the meiotic prophase, occurs synchronously and recapitulates cytological and transcriptome progression in vivo faithfully. Importantly, the female germ-cell induction necessitates a proper cellular competence-most typically, DNA demethylation of relevant genes-which is observed in appropriately propagated PGCs/PGCLCs, but not in PGCs/PGCLCs immediately after induction. This provides an explanation for the differential function of BMP signaling between PGC specification and female germ-cell induction. Our findings represent a framework for a comprehensive delineation of the sex-determination pathway in mammalian germ cells, including humans.
Project description:The molecular mechanisms of human primordial germ cell (PGC) specification are poorly understood due to the inaccessibility of cell materials and the lack of an alternative in vitro model that enables tracking of the earliest stages of germ cell development. Here, we introduce a defined and efficient differentiation system for the induction of pre-migratory PGC-like cells from human embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). By step-wise differentiation, we generated an OCT4+/ T+/BLIMP1+ cell population that transitioned into STELLA expressing PGC-like cells that exhibited a similar key gene expression as mouse PGCs as well as global epigenetic reprogramming. Even though, these PGC-like cells expressed PRDM14 at very low levels, they underwent activation of pluripotency/PGC genes, suppression of neural induction and suppression of de novo DNA methylation, events that are regulated by Prdm14 during mouse PGC specification. This study demonstrates that human PGC commitment shares many key features with mouse PGC specification, but harbors unique and so far unknown mechanisms that, point to a novel human transcriptional regulation. Overall design: 7 samples were analyzed. ESC: Human Embryonic Stem Cells, 1 biological rep iPSC: Human induced Pluripotent Stem Cells, 1 biological rep d2: Human induced Pluripotent Stem Cells, 2 days differentiation treatment , 2 biological rep d4PGCLC: Human induced Pluripotent Stem Cells, 4 days differentiation treatment towards Primordial Germ Cells Like Cells, 1 biological rep d6PGCLC: Human induced Pluripotent Stem Cells, 6 days differentiation treatment towards Primordial Germ Cells Like Cells, 2 biological rep
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.