Cripto is essential to capture mouse epiblast stem cell and human embryonic stem cell pluripotency.
ABSTRACT: Known molecular determinants of developmental plasticity are mainly transcription factors, while the extrinsic regulation of this process has been largely unexplored. Here we identify Cripto as one of the earliest epiblast markers and a key extracellular determinant of the naive and primed pluripotent states. We demonstrate that Cripto sustains mouse embryonic stem cell (ESC) self-renewal by modulating Wnt/?-catenin, whereas it maintains mouse epiblast stem cell (EpiSC) and human ESC pluripotency through Nodal/Smad2. Moreover, we provide unprecedented evidence that Cripto controls the metabolic reprogramming in ESCs to EpiSC transition. Remarkably, Cripto deficiency attenuates ESC lineage restriction in vitro and in vivo, and permits ESC transdifferentiation into trophectoderm lineage, suggesting that Cripto has earlier functions than previously recognized. All together, our studies provide novel insights into the current model of mammalian pluripotency and contribute to the understanding of the extrinsic regulation of the first cell lineage decision in the embryo.
Project description:We reported RNA-seq transcriptome profiling of WT and Cripto KO ESC→EpiSC transition using the Illumina HiSeq platform. Whole-genome expression revealed that epiblast associated-genes were all severely reduced in absence of Cripto compare to WT. Interestingly, besides a set of common genes deregulated in both WT and Cripto KO ESC→EpiSC transition, we identified two different sets of genes that were uniquely deregulated. We find a large cluster of genes coding for components of the five respiratory electron transport complexes, which are involved in mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation, downregulated only in WT ESC→EpiSC transition, while their expression was unvaried in Cripto KO. Moreover the RNAseq analysis reveals a set of genes that were uniquely upregulated in Cripto KO, such as Hox genes and trophoectodermal markers. RNAseq data and validation both at RNA and protein level provide new evidences that Cripto is required for the metabolic reprogramming that occurs in the conversion of mouse ESCs into EpiSCs, preserving ESC lineage restriction. Overall design: RNA-seq profiling of WT and Cripto KO ESCs and EpiSCs using the Illumina HiSeq platform
Project description:The interconversion between naive and primed pluripotent states is accompanied by drastic epigenetic rearrangements. However, it is unclear whether intrinsic epigenetic events can drive reprogramming to naive pluripotency or if distinct chromatin states are instead simply a reflection of discrete pluripotent states. Here, we show that blocking histone H3K4 methyltransferase MLL1 activity with the small-molecule inhibitor MM-401 reprograms mouse epiblast stem cells (EpiSCs) to naive pluripotency. This reversion is highly efficient and synchronized, with more than 50% of treated EpiSCs exhibiting features of naive embryonic stem cells (ESCs) within 3 days. Reverted ESCs reactivate the silenced X chromosome and contribute to embryos following blastocyst injection, generating germline-competent chimeras. Importantly, blocking MLL1 leads to global redistribution of H3K4me1 at enhancers and represses lineage determinant factors and EpiSC markers, which indirectly regulate ESC transcription circuitry. These findings show that discrete perturbation of H3K4 methylation is sufficient to drive reprogramming to naive pluripotency.
Project description:The Shc family of adaptor proteins are crucial mediators of a plethora of receptors such as the tyrosine kinase receptors, cytokine receptors, and integrins that drive signaling pathways governing proliferation, differentiation, and migration. Here, we report the role of the newly identified family member, ShcD/RaLP, whose expression in vitro and in vivo suggests a function in embryonic stem cell (ESC) to epiblast stem cells (EpiSCs) transition. The transition from the naïve (ESC) to the primed (EpiSC) pluripotent state is the initial important step for ESCs to commit to differentiation and the mechanisms underlying this process are still largely unknown. Using a novel approach to simultaneously assess pluripotency, apoptosis, and proliferation by multiparameter flow cytometry, we show that ESC to EpiSC transition is a process involving a tight coordination between the modulation of the Oct4 expression, cell cycle progression, and cell death. We also describe, by high-content immunofluorescence analysis and time-lapse microscopy, the emergence of cells expressing caudal-related homeobox 2 (Cdx2) transcription factor during ESC to EpiSC transition. The use of the ShcD knockout ESCs allowed the unmasking of this process as they presented deregulated Oct4 modulation and an enrichment in Oct4-negative Cdx2-positive cells with increased MAPK/extracellular-regulated kinases 1/2 activation, within the differentiating population. Collectively, our data reveal ShcD as an important modulator in the switch of key pathway(s) involved in determining EpiSC identity.
Project description:Embryonic Stem Cells (ESCs) and Epiblast Stem Cells (EpiSCs) are the in vitro representatives of naïve and primed pluripotency, respectively. It is currently unclear how their epigenomes underpin the phenotypic and molecular characteristics of these distinct pluripotent states. Here, we performed a genome-wide comparison of DNA methylation between ESCs and EpiSCs by MethylCap-Seq. We observe that promoters are preferential targets for methylation in EpiSC compared to ESCs, in particular high CpG island promoters. This is in line with upregulation of the de novo methyltransferases Dnmt3a1 and Dnmt3b in EpiSC, and downregulation of the demethylases Tet1 and Tet2. Remarkably, the observed DNA methylation signature is specific to EpiSCs and differs from that of their in vivo counterpart, the postimplantation epiblast. Using a subset of promoters that are differentially methylated, we show that DNA methylation is established within a few days during in vitro outgrowth of the epiblast, and also occurs when ESCs are converted to EpiSCs in vitro. Once established, this methylation is stable, as ES-like cells obtained by in vitro reversion of EpiSCs display an epigenetic memory that only extensive passaging and sub-cloning are able to almost completely erase.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Pluripotent stem cells hold great promise for regenerative medicine. However, before clinical application, reproducible protocols for pluripotent stem cell differentiation should be established. Extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase (ERK) signaling plays a central role for the self-renewal of epiblast stem cells (EpiSCs), but its role for subsequent germ layer differentiation is still ambiguous. We proposed that ERK could modulate differentiation of the epiblast. METHODS:PD0325901 was used to inhibit ERK activation during the differentiation of embryonic stem cells and EpiSCs. Immunofluorescence, western blot analysis, real-time PCR and flow cytometry were used to detect germ layer markers and pathway activation. RESULTS:We demonstrate that the ERK phosphorylation level is lower in neuroectoderm of mouse E7.5 embryos than that in the primitive streak. ERK inhibition results in neural lineage commitment of epiblast. Mechanistically, PD0325901 abrogates the expression of primitive streak markers by ?-catenin retention in the cytoplasm, and inhibits the expression of OCT4 and NANOG during EpiSC differentiation. Thus, EpiSCs differentiate into neuroectodermal lineage efficiently under PD0325901 treatment. These results suggest that neuroectoderm differentiation does not require extrinsic signals, supporting the default differentiation of neural lineage. CONCLUSIONS:We report that a single ERK inhibitor, PD0325901, can specify epiblasts and EpiSCs into neural-like cells, providing an efficient strategy for neural differentiation.
Project description:It has previously been reported that mouse epiblast stem cell (EpiSC) lines comprise heterogeneous cell populations that are functionally equivalent to cells of either early- or late-stage postimplantation development. So far, the establishment of the embryonic stem cell (ESC) pluripotency gene regulatory network through the widely known chemical inhibition of MEK and GSK3beta has been impractical in late-stage EpiSCs. Here, we show that chemical inhibition of casein kinase 1alpha (CK1alpha) induces the conversion of recalcitrant late-stage EpiSCs into ESC pluripotency. CK1alpha inhibition directly results in the simultaneous activation of the WNT signaling pathway, together with inhibition of the TGFbeta/SMAD2 signaling pathway, mediating the rewiring of the gene regulatory network in favor of an ESC-like state. Our findings uncover a molecular mechanism that links CK1alpha to ESC pluripotency through the direct modulation of WNT and TGFbeta signaling.
Project description:Pluripotent epiblast stem cells (EpiSCs) derived from postimplantation embryos exhibit properties that are characteristically different when compared with pluripotent embryonic stem cells (ESCs) derived from mouse blastocysts. However, EpiSCs are relatively less well characterised compared with ESCs. In particular, the relationship between EpiSCs and primordial germ cells (PGCs) is unknown, and is worthy of investigation because PGCs originate from postimplantation epiblast cells in vivo. We show that EpiSCs have an infinite capacity for generating PGCs, under conditions that sustain their pluripotency and self-renewal. These PGCs generated in vitro show appropriate transcriptional and epigenetic reprogramming events and are able to develop further into late germ cells. Notably, the PGCs can, in turn, be induced to undergo dedifferentiation into pluripotent embryonic germ cells (EGCs), which resemble ESCs and not the EpiSC from which they are derived. Our observations demonstrate intrinsic reprogramming during specification of PGCs that results in the erasure of epigenetic memory of EpiSCs following reactivation of the X-chromosome, DNA demethylation and re-expression of key pluripotency genes. This study provides novel insights into the nature and properties of EpiSCs, and introduces an in vitro model system that will be useful for investigations on PGC specification and on mechanisms regulating epigenetic reprogramming in germ cells.
Project description:Mus musculus is the only known species from which embryonic stem cells (ESC) can be isolated under conditions requiring only leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF). Other species are non-permissive in LIF media, and form developmentally primed epiblast stem cells (EpiSC) similar to cells derived from post-implantation, egg cylinders. To evaluate whether non-permissiveness extends to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC), we derived iPSC from the eight founder strains of the mouse Collaborative Cross. Two strains, NOD/ShiLtJ and the WSB/EiJ, were non-permissive, consistent with the previous classification of NOD/ShiLtJ as non-permissive to ESC derivation. We determined non-permissiveness is recessive, and that non-permissive genomes do not compliment. We overcame iPSC non-permissiveness by using GSK3B and MEK inhibitors with serum, a technique we termed 2iS reprogramming. Although used for ESC derivation, GSK3B and MEK inhibitors have not been used during iPSC reprogramming because they inhibit survival of progenitor differentiated cells. iPSC derived in 2iS are more transcriptionally similar to ESC than EpiSC, indicating that 2iS reprogramming acts to overcome genetic background constraints. Finally, of species tested for ESC or iPSC derivation, only some M. musculus strains are permissive under LIF culture conditions suggesting that this is an evolutionarily derived characteristic in the M. musculus lineage.
Project description:The function of metabolic state in stemness is poorly understood. Mouse embryonic stem cells (ESC) and epiblast stem cells (EpiSC) are at distinct pluripotent states representing the inner cell mass (ICM) and epiblast embryos. Human embryonic stem cells (hESC) are similar to EpiSC stage. We now show a dramatic metabolic difference between these two stages. EpiSC/hESC are highly glycolytic, while ESC are bivalent in their energy production, dynamically switching from glycolysis to mitochondrial respiration on demand. Despite having a more developed and expanding mitochondrial content, EpiSC/hESC have low mitochondrial respiratory capacity due to low cytochrome c oxidase (COX) expression. Similarly, in vivo epiblasts suppress COX levels. These data reveal EpiSC/hESC functional similarity to the glycolytic phenotype in cancer (Warburg effect). We further show that hypoxia-inducible factor 1? (HIF1?) is sufficient to drive ESC to a glycolytic Activin/Nodal-dependent EpiSC-like stage. This metabolic switch during early stem-cell development may be deterministic.
Project description:During gastrulation, epiblast cells are pluripotent and their fate is thought to be constrained principally by their position. Cell fate is progressively restricted by localised signalling cues from areas including the primitive streak. However, it is unknown whether this restriction accompanies, at the individual cell level, a reduction in potency. Investigation of these early transition events in vitro is possible via the use of epiblast stem cells (EpiSCs), self-renewing pluripotent cell lines equivalent to the postimplantation epiblast. Strikingly, mouse EpiSCs express gastrulation stage regional markers in self-renewing conditions. Here, we examined the differentiation potential of cells expressing such lineage markers. We show that undifferentiated EpiSC cultures contain a major subfraction of cells with reversible early primitive streak characteristics, which is mutually exclusive to a neural-like fraction. Using in vitro differentiation assays and embryo grafting we demonstrate that primitive streak-like EpiSCs are biased towards mesoderm and endoderm fates while retaining pluripotency. The acquisition of primitive streak characteristics by self-renewing EpiSCs is mediated by endogenous Wnt signalling. Elevation of Wnt activity promotes restriction towards primitive streak-associated lineages with mesendodermal and neuromesodermal characteristics. Collectively, our data suggest that EpiSC pluripotency encompasses a range of reversible lineage-biased states reflecting the birth of pioneer lineage precursors from a pool of uncommitted EpiSCs similar to the earliest cell fate restriction events taking place in the gastrula stage epiblast.