ABSTRACT: Pluripotency confers Embryonic Stem Cells (ESCs) the ability to differentiate in ectoderm, endoderm, and mesoderm derivatives, producing the majority of cell types. Although the majority of ESCs divide without losing pluripotency, it has become evident that ESCs culture consists of multiple cell populations with different degrees of potency that are spontaneously induced in regular ESC culture conditions. Zscan4, a key pluripotency factor, marks ESC subpopulation that is referred to as high-level of pluripotency metastate. Here, we report that in ESC cultures treated with retinoic acid (RA), Zscan4 ESCs metastate is strongly enhanced. In particular, we found that induction of Zscan4 metastate is mediated via RA receptors (RAR-alpha, RAR-beta, and RAR-gamma), and it is dependent on phosphoinositide-3-kinase (PI3K) signaling. Remarkably, Zscan4 metastate induced by RA lacks canonical pluripotency genes Oct3/4 and Nanog but retained both self-renewal and pluripotency capabilities. Finally we demonstrated that the conditional ablation of Zscan4 subpopulation is dispensable for both endoderm and mesoderm but is required for ectoderm lineage. In conclusion, our research provides new insights about the role of RA signaling during ESCs high pluripotency metastate fluctuation.
Project description:Pluripotency confers Embryonic Stem Cells (ESCs) the ability to differentiate in ectoderm, endoderm, and mesoderm derivatives, producing the majority of cell types. Although the majority of ESCs divide without losing pluripotency, it has become evident that ESCs culture consists of multiple cell populations with different degrees of potency that are spontaneously induced in regular ESC culture conditions. Zscan4, a key pluripotency factor, marks ESC subpopulation that is referred to as high-level of pluripotency metastate. Here, we report that in ESC cultures treated with retinoic acid (RA), Zscan4 ESCs metastate is strongly enhanced. In particular, we found that induction of Zscan4 metastate is mediated via RA receptors (RAR-alpha, RAR-beta, and RAR-gamma), and it is dependent on phosphoinositide-3-kinase (PI3K) signaling. Remarkably, Zscan4 metastate induced by RA lacks canonical pluripotency genes Oct3/4 and Nanog but retained both self-renewal and pluripotency capabilities. Finally we demonstrated that the conditional ablation of Zscan4 subpopulation is dispensable for both endoderm and mesoderm but is required for ectoderm lineage. In conclusion, our research provides new insights about the role of RA signaling during ESCs high pluripotency metastate fluctuation. Overall design: emeral+/-, retinoic acid cell sorting
Project description:Embryonic Stem cells (ESCs) can be differentiated into ectoderm, endoderm, and mesoderm derivatives, producing the majority of cell types. In regular culture conditions, ESCs' self-renewal is maintained through molecules that inhibit spontaneous differentiation enabling long-term cellular expansion. This undifferentiating condition is characterized by multiple metastable states that fluctuate between self-renewal and differentiation balance. Here, we aim to characterize the high-pluripotent ESC metastate marked by the expression of Zscan4 through a supervised machine learning framework based on an ensemble of support vector machine (SVM) classifiers. Our study revealed a leukaemia inhibitor factor (Lif) dependent not-canonical pluripotency signature (AF067063, BC061212, Dub1, Eif1a, Gm12794, Gm13871, Gm4340, Gm4850, Tcstv1/3, and Zfp352), that specifically marks Zscan4 ESCs' fluctuation. This novel ESC metastate is enhanced by high-pluripotency culture conditions obtained through Extracellular signal Regulated-Kinase (ERK) and Glycogen synthase kinase-3 (Gsk-3) signaling inhibition (2i). Significantly, we reported that the conditional ablation of the novel ESC metastate marked by the expression of Gm12794 is required for ESCs self-renewal maintenance. In conclusion, we extend the comprehension of ESCs biology through the identification of a novel molecular signature associated to pluripotency programming.
Project description:Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are derived from inner cell mass (ICM) of the blastocyst. In serum/LIF culture condition, they show variable expression of pluripotency genes that mark cell fluctuation between pluripotency and differentiation metastate. The ESCs subpopulation marked by zygotic genome activation gene (ZGA) signature, including Zscan4, retains a wider differentiation potency than epiblast-derived ESCs. We have recently shown that retinoic acid (RA) significantly enhances Zscan4 cell population. However, it remains unexplored how RA initiates the ESCs to 2-cell like reprogramming. Here we found that RA is decisive for ESCs to 2C-like cell transition, and reconstructed the gene network surrounding Zscan4. We revealed that RA regulates 2C-like population co-activating Dux and Duxbl1. We provided novel evidence that RA dependent ESCs to 2C-like cell transition is regulated by Dux, and antagonized by Duxbl1. Our suggested mechanism could shed light on the role of RA on ESC reprogramming.
Project description:The extracellular microenvironment proved to exert a potent regulatory effect over different aspects of Embryonic Stem Cells (ESCs) behavior. In particular, the employment of engineered culture surfaces aimed at modulating ESC self-organization resulted effective in directing ESCs toward specific fate decision. ESCs fluctuate among different levels of functional potency and in this context the Zscan4 gene marks the so-called "metastate," a cellular state in which ESCs retain both self-renewal and pluripotency capabilities. Here we investigated the impact of topographic cues on ESCs pluripotency, differentiation and organization capabilities. To this aim, we engineered culturing platforms of nanograted surfaces with different features size and we investigated their impact on ESCs multicellular organization and Zscan4 gene expression. We showed that the morphology of ESC-derived aggregates and Zscan4 expression are strictly intertwined. Our data suggest that ESC Zscan4 metastate can be promoted if the adhesive surface conditions guide cellular self-aggregation into 3D dome-like structure, in which both cell-material interactions and cell-cell contact are supportive for Zscan4 expression.
Project description:Retinoic acid (RA) is one of the most potent inducers of differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs). However, previous studies show that RA treatment of cells cultured in the presence of a leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) also result in the upregulation of a gene called Zscan4, whose transient expression is a marker for undifferentiated ESCs. We explored the balance between these two seemingly antagonistic effects of RA. ESCs indeed differentiated in the presence of LIF after RA treatment, but colonies of undifferentiated ESCs eventually emerged from these differentiated cells - even in the presence of RA. These colonies, named secondary colonies, consist of three cell types: typical undifferentiated ESCs expressing pluripotency genes such as Pou5f1, Sox2, and Nanog; cells expressing Zscan4; and endodermal-like cells located at the periphery of the colony. The capacity to form secondary colonies was confirmed for all eight tested ESC lines. Cells from the secondary colonies - after transfer to the standard ESC medium - retained pluripotency, judged by their strong alkaline phosphatase (ALP) staining, typical colony morphology, gene expression profile, stable karyotype, capacity to differentiate into all three germ layers in embryoid body formation assays, and successful contribution to chimeras after injection into blastocysts. Based on flow cytometry analysis (FACS), the proportion of Zscan4-positive cells in secondary colonies was higher than in standard ESC colonies, which may explain the capacity of ESCs to resist the differentiating effects of RA and instead form secondary colonies of undifferentiated ESCs. This hypothesis is supported by cell-lineage tracing analysis, which showed that most cells in the secondary colonies were descendents of cells transiently expressing Zscan4.
Project description:This study was aimed at establishing buffalo embryonic stem cells (ESCs) from in vitro fertilized (IVF), parthenogenetic, and hand-made cloned (HMC) embryos and to check their equivalency in terms of stem cell marker expression, longevity, proliferation, and differentiation pattern. ESCs derived from all three sources were found by immunofluorescence to express the pluripotency markers SSEA-4, TRA-1-60, TRA-1-81, OCT4, and SOX2 and were able to form embryoid bodies containing cells expressing genes specific to endoderm (AFP, HNF4, and GATA4), mesoderm (MSX1, BMP4, and ASA), and ectoderm (cytokeratin 8 and NF68). Reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR) showed cells from all sources to be positive for pluripotency markers OCT4, SOX2, NANOG, STAT3, REX1, FOXD3, NUCLEOSTEMIN, and TELOMERASE. Pluripotency markers OCT4, SOX2, NANOG, and c-MYC were also analyzed by real-time PCR. No significant differences were observed among ESCs from all three sources for all these genes except NANOG, whose expression was higher (p<0.05) in HMC-derived ESCs (6.897±2.3) compared to that in parthenogenesis- and IVF-derived cells (1.603±0.315 and 1±0, respectively). Pluripotent, stable buffalo ESC lines derived from IVF, parthenogenesis, and HMC embryos may be genetically manipulated to provide a powerful tool for studies involving embryonic development, genomic imprinting, gene targeting, cloning, chimera formation, and transgenic animal production.
Project description:The pluripotent status of embryonic stem cells (ESCs) confers upon them the capacity to differentiate into the three primary germ layers, ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm, from which all the cells of the adult body are derived. An understanding of the mechanisms controlling pluripotency is thus essential for driving the differentiation of human pluripotent cells into cell types useful for clinical applications. The Activin/Nodal signalling pathway is necessary to maintain pluripotency in human ESCs and in mouse epiblast stem cells (EpiSCs), but the molecular mechanisms by which it achieves this effect remain obscure. Here, we demonstrate that Activin/Nodal signalling controls expression of the key pluripotency factor Nanog in human ESCs and in mouse EpiSCs. Nanog in turn prevents neuroectoderm differentiation induced by FGF signalling and limits the transcriptional activity of the Smad2/3 cascade, blocking progression along the endoderm lineage. This negative-feedback loop imposes stasis in neuroectoderm and mesendoderm differentiation, thereby maintaining the pluripotent status of human ESCs and mouse EpiSCs.
Project description:Mouse embryonic stem cell (ESC) cultures exhibit a heterogeneous mixture of metastable cells sporadically entering the 2-cell (2C)-embryo-like state, critical for ESC potency. One of 2-cell genes, Zscan4, has been shown to be responsible for telomere maintenance, genomic stability and pluripotency of mouse ESCs. Functions of other 2C-genes in ESCs remain elusive. Here we show that 2C-genes Tcstv1 and Tcstv3 play a role in regulation of telomere lengths. Overexpression or knockdown Tcstv1 and Tcstv3 does not immediately affect proliferation, pluripotency and differentiation in vitro of ESCs. However, ectopic expression of Tcstv1 or Tcstv3 results in telomere elongation, whereas Tcstv1/3 knockdown shortens telomeres of ESCs. Overexpression of Tcstv1 or Tcstv3 does not alter telomere stability. Furthermore, Tcstv1 can increase Zscan4 protein levels and telomere recombination by telomere sister chromatid exchange (T-SCE). Depletion of Tcstv1/3 reduces Zscan4 protein levels. Together, Tcstv1 and Tcstv3 are involved in telomere maintenance that is required for long-term self-renewal of mouse ESCs. Our data also suggests that Tcstv1/3 may co-operate and stabilize Zscan4 protein but the molecular bases remain to be determined.
Project description:Over the past years, microRNAs (miRNAs) have emerged as crucial factors that regulate self-renewal and differentiation of embryonic stem cells (ESCs). Although much is known about their role in maintaining ESC pluripotency, the mechanisms by which they affect cell fate decisions remain poorly understood. By performing deep sequencing to profile miRNA expression in mouse ESCs (mESCs) and differentiated embryoid bodies (EBs), we identified four differentially expressed miRNAs. Among them, miR-191 and miR-16-1 are highly expressed in ESCs and repress Smad2, the most essential mediator of Activin-Nodal signaling, resulting in the inhibition of mesendoderm formation. miR-23a, which is also down-regulated in the differentiated state, suppresses differentiation toward the endoderm and ectoderm lineages. We further identified miR-421 as a differentiation-associated regulator through the direct repression of the core pluripotency transcription factor Oct4 and the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-signaling components, Smad5 and Id2. Collectively, our findings uncover a regulatory network between the studied miRNAs and both branches of TGF-?/BMP-signaling pathways, revealing their importance for ESC lineage decisions.
Project description:INTRODUCTION: Since the concept of reprogramming mature somatic cells to generate induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) was demonstrated in 2006, iPSCs have become a potential substitute for embryonic stem cells (ESCs) given their pluripotency and "stemness" characteristics, which resemble those of ESCs. We investigated to reprogram fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs) from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA) to generate iPSCs using a 4-in-1 lentiviral vector system. METHODS: A 4-in-1 lentiviral vector containing Oct4, Sox2, Klf4, and c-Myc was transduced into RA and OA FLSs isolated from the synovia of two RA patients and two OA patients. Immunohistochemical staining and real-time PCR studies were performed to demonstrate the pluripotency of iPSCs. Chromosomal abnormalities were determined based on the karyotype. SCID-beige mice were injected with iPSCs and sacrificed to test for teratoma formation. RESULTS: After 14 days of transduction using the 4-in-1 lentiviral vector, RA FLSs and OA FLSs were transformed into spherical shapes that resembled embryonic stem cell colonies. Colonies were picked and cultivated on matrigel plates to produce iPSC lines. Real-time PCR of RA and OA iPSCs detected positive markers of pluripotency. Immunohistochemical staining tests with Nanog, Oct4, Sox2, Tra-1-80, Tra-1-60, and SSEA-4 were also positive. Teratomas that comprised three compartments of ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm were formed at the injection sites of iPSCs. Established iPSCs were shown to be compatible by karyotyping. Finally, we confirmed that the patient-derived iPSCs were able to differentiate into osteoblast, which was shown by an osteoimage mineralization assay. CONCLUSION: FLSs derived from RA and OA could be cell resources for iPSC reprogramming. Disease- and patient-specific iPSCs have the potential to be applied in clinical settings as source materials for molecular diagnosis and regenerative therapy.