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Publication
Journal: Nature
March/18/2009
Abstract
There is growing recognition that mammalian cells produce many thousands of large intergenic transcripts. However, the functional significance of these transcripts has been particularly controversial. Although there are some well-characterized examples, most (>95%) show little evidence of evolutionary conservation and have been suggested to represent transcriptional noise. Here we report a new approach to identifying large non-coding RNAs using chromatin-state maps to discover discrete transcriptional units intervening known protein-coding loci. Our approach identified approximately 1,600 large multi-exonic RNAs across four mouse cell types. In sharp contrast to previous collections, these large intervening non-coding RNAs (lincRNAs) show strong purifying selection in their genomic loci, exonic sequences and promoter regions, with greater than 95% showing clear evolutionary conservation. We also developed a functional genomics approach that assigns putative functions to each lincRNA, demonstrating a diverse range of roles for lincRNAs in processes from embryonic stem cell pluripotency to cell proliferation. We obtained independent functional validation for the predictions for over 100 lincRNAs, using cell-based assays. In particular, we demonstrate that specific lincRNAs are transcriptionally regulated by key transcription factors in these processes such as p53, NFkappaB, Sox2, Oct4 (also known as Pou5f1) and Nanog. Together, these results define a unique collection of functional lincRNAs that are highly conserved and implicated in diverse biological processes.
Publication
Journal: Nature
August/16/2007
Abstract
We have previously shown that pluripotent stem cells can be induced from mouse fibroblasts by retroviral introduction of Oct3/4 (also called Pou5f1), Sox2, c-Myc and Klf4, and subsequent selection for Fbx15 (also called Fbxo15) expression. These induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells (hereafter called Fbx15 iPS cells) are similar to embryonic stem (ES) cells in morphology, proliferation and teratoma formation; however, they are different with regards to gene expression and DNA methylation patterns, and fail to produce adult chimaeras. Here we show that selection for Nanog expression results in germline-competent iPS cells with increased ES-cell-like gene expression and DNA methylation patterns compared with Fbx15 iPS cells. The four transgenes (Oct3/4, Sox2, c-myc and Klf4) were strongly silenced in Nanog iPS cells. We obtained adult chimaeras from seven Nanog iPS cell clones, with one clone being transmitted through the germ line to the next generation. Approximately 20% of the offspring developed tumours attributable to reactivation of the c-myc transgene. Thus, iPS cells competent for germline chimaeras can be obtained from fibroblasts, but retroviral introduction of c-Myc should be avoided for clinical application.
Publication
Journal: Nature Genetics
May/4/2000
Abstract
Cell fate during development is defined by transcription factors that act as molecular switches to activate or repress specific gene expression programmes. The POU transcription factor Oct-3/4 (encoded by Pou5f1) is a candidate regulator in pluripotent and germline cells and is essential for the initial formation of a pluripotent founder cell population in the mammalian embryo. Here we use conditional expression and repression in embryonic stem (ES) cells to determine requirements for Oct-3/4 in the maintenance of developmental potency. Although transcriptional determination has usually been considered as a binary on-off control system, we found that the precise level of Oct-3/4 governs three distinct fates of ES cells. A less than twofold increase in expression causes differentiation into primitive endoderm and mesoderm. In contrast, repression of Oct-3/4 induces loss of pluripotency and dedifferentiation to trophectoderm. Thus a critical amount of Oct-3/4 is required to sustain stem-cell self-renewal, and up- or downregulation induce divergent developmental programmes. Our findings establish a role for Oct-3/4 as a master regulator of pluripotency that controls lineage commitment and illustrate the sophistication of critical transcriptional regulators and the consequent importance of quantitative analyses.
Publication
Journal: Nature
August/16/2007
Abstract
Nuclear transplantation can reprogramme a somatic genome back into an embryonic epigenetic state, and the reprogrammed nucleus can create a cloned animal or produce pluripotent embryonic stem cells. One potential use of the nuclear cloning approach is the derivation of 'customized' embryonic stem (ES) cells for patient-specific cell treatment, but technical and ethical considerations impede the therapeutic application of this technology. Reprogramming of fibroblasts to a pluripotent state can be induced in vitro through ectopic expression of the four transcription factors Oct4 (also called Oct3/4 or Pou5f1), Sox2, c-Myc and Klf4. Here we show that DNA methylation, gene expression and chromatin state of such induced reprogrammed stem cells are similar to those of ES cells. Notably, the cells-derived from mouse fibroblasts-can form viable chimaeras, can contribute to the germ line and can generate live late-term embryos when injected into tetraploid blastocysts. Our results show that the biological potency and epigenetic state of in-vitro-reprogrammed induced pluripotent stem cells are indistinguishable from those of ES cells.
Publication
Journal: Nature
November/10/2008
Abstract
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short RNAs that direct messenger RNA degradation or disrupt mRNA translation in a sequence-dependent manner. For more than a decade, attempts to study the interaction of miRNAs with their targets were confined to the 3' untranslated regions of mRNAs, fuelling an underlying assumption that these regions are the principal recipients of miRNA activity. Here we focus on the mouse Nanog, Oct4 (also known as Pou5f1) and Sox2 genes and demonstrate the existence of many naturally occurring miRNA targets in their amino acid coding sequence (CDS). Some of the mouse targets analysed do not contain the miRNA seed, whereas others span exon-exon junctions or are not conserved in the human and rhesus genomes. miR-134, miR-296 and miR-470, upregulated on retinoic-acid-induced differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells, target the CDS of each transcription factor in various combinations, leading to transcriptional and morphological changes characteristic of differentiating mouse embryonic stem cells, and resulting in a new phenotype. Silent mutations at the predicted targets abolish miRNA activity, prevent the downregulation of the corresponding genes and delay the induced phenotype. Our findings demonstrate the abundance of CDS-located miRNA targets, some of which can be species-specific, and support an augmented model whereby animal miRNAs exercise their control on mRNAs through targets that can reside beyond the 3' untranslated region.
Publication
Journal: Nature
September/28/2009
Abstract
Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells can be generated from somatic cells by the introduction of Oct3/4 (also known as Pou5f1), Sox2, Klf4 and c-Myc, in mouse and in human. The efficiency of this process, however, is low. Pluripotency can be induced without c-Myc, but with even lower efficiency. A p53 (also known as TP53 in humans and Trp53 in mice) short-interfering RNA (siRNA) was recently shown to promote human iPS cell generation, but the specificity and mechanisms remain to be determined. Here we report that up to 10% of transduced mouse embryonic fibroblasts lacking p53 became iPS cells, even without the Myc retrovirus. The p53 deletion also promoted the induction of integration-free mouse iPS cells with plasmid transfection. Furthermore, in the p53-null background, iPS cells were generated from terminally differentiated T lymphocytes. The suppression of p53 also increased the efficiency of human iPS cell generation. DNA microarray analyses identified 34 p53-regulated genes that are common in mouse and human fibroblasts. Functional analyses of these genes demonstrate that the p53-p21 pathway serves as a barrier not only in tumorigenicity, but also in iPS cell generation.
Publication
Journal: Nature
September/28/2009
Abstract
Reprogramming somatic cells to induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells has been accomplished by expressing pluripotency factors and oncogenes, but the low frequency and tendency to induce malignant transformation compromise the clinical utility of this powerful approach. We address both issues by investigating the mechanisms limiting reprogramming efficiency in somatic cells. Here we show that reprogramming factors can activate the p53 (also known as Trp53 in mice, TP53 in humans) pathway. Reducing signalling to p53 by expressing a mutated version of one of its negative regulators, by deleting or knocking down p53 or its target gene, p21 (also known as Cdkn1a), or by antagonizing reprogramming-induced apoptosis in mouse fibroblasts increases reprogramming efficiency. Notably, decreasing p53 protein levels enabled fibroblasts to give rise to iPS cells capable of generating germline-transmitting chimaeric mice using only Oct4 (also known as Pou5f1) and Sox2. Furthermore, silencing of p53 significantly increased the reprogramming efficiency of human somatic cells. These results provide insights into reprogramming mechanisms and suggest new routes to more efficient reprogramming while minimizing the use of oncogenes.
Publication
Journal: Nature
April/20/2009
Abstract
Reprogramming of somatic cells to pluripotency, thereby creating induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, promises to transform regenerative medicine. Most instances of direct reprogramming have been achieved by forced expression of defined factors using multiple viral vectors. However, such iPS cells contain a large number of viral vector integrations, any one of which could cause unpredictable genetic dysfunction. Whereas c-Myc is dispensable for reprogramming, complete elimination of the other exogenous factors is also desired because ectopic expression of either Oct4 (also known as Pou5f1) or Klf4 can induce dysplasia. Two transient transfection-reprogramming methods have been published to address this issue. However, the efficiency of both approaches is extremely low, and neither has been applied successfully to human cells so far. Here we show that non-viral transfection of a single multiprotein expression vector, which comprises the coding sequences of c-Myc, Klf4, Oct4 and Sox2 linked with 2A peptides, can reprogram both mouse and human fibroblasts. Moreover, the transgene can be removed once reprogramming has been achieved. iPS cells produced with this non-viral vector show robust expression of pluripotency markers, indicating a reprogrammed state confirmed functionally by in vitro differentiation assays and formation of adult chimaeric mice. When the single-vector reprogramming system was combined with a piggyBac transposon, we succeeded in establishing reprogrammed human cell lines from embryonic fibroblasts with robust expression of pluripotency markers. This system minimizes genome modification in iPS cells and enables complete elimination of exogenous reprogramming factors, efficiently providing iPS cells that are applicable to regenerative medicine, drug screening and the establishment of disease models.
Publication
Journal: Nature Biotechnology
December/29/2009
Abstract
Realizing the full potential of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) requires efficient methods for genetic modification. However, techniques to generate cell type-specific lineage reporters, as well as reliable tools to disrupt, repair or overexpress genes by gene targeting, are inefficient at best and thus are not routinely used. Here we report the highly efficient targeting of three genes in human pluripotent cells using zinc-finger nuclease (ZFN)-mediated genome editing. First, using ZFNs specific for the OCT4 (POU5F1) locus, we generated OCT4-eGFP reporter cells to monitor the pluripotent state of hESCs. Second, we inserted a transgene into the AAVS1 locus to generate a robust drug-inducible overexpression system in hESCs. Finally, we targeted the PITX3 gene, demonstrating that ZFNs can be used to generate reporter cells by targeting non-expressed genes in hESCs and hiPSCs.
Publication
Journal: Nature
September/28/2009
Abstract
The mechanisms involved in the reprogramming of differentiated cells into induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells by the three transcription factors Oct4 (also known as Pou5f1), Klf4 and Sox2 remain poorly understood. The Ink4/Arf locus comprises the Cdkn2a-Cdkn2b genes encoding three potent tumour suppressors, namely p16(Ink4a), p19(Arf) and p15(Ink4b), which are basally expressed in differentiated cells and upregulated by aberrant mitogenic signals. Here we show that the locus is completely silenced in iPS cells, as well as in embryonic stem (ES) cells, acquiring the epigenetic marks of a bivalent chromatin domain, and retaining the ability to be reactivated after differentiation. Cell culture conditions during reprogramming enhance the expression of the Ink4/Arf locus, further highlighting the importance of silencing the locus to allow proliferation and reprogramming. Indeed, the three factors together repress the Ink4/Arf locus soon after their expression and concomitant with the appearance of the first molecular markers of 'stemness'. This downregulation also occurs in cells carrying the oncoprotein large-T, which functionally inactivates the pathways regulated by the Ink4/Arf locus, thus indicating that the silencing of the locus is intrinsic to reprogramming and not the result of a selective process. Genetic inhibition of the Ink4/Arf locus has a profound positive effect on the efficiency of iPS cell generation, increasing both the kinetics of reprogramming and the number of emerging iPS cell colonies. In murine cells, Arf, rather than Ink4a, is the main barrier to reprogramming by activation of p53 (encoded by Trp53) and p21 (encoded by Cdkn1a); whereas, in human fibroblasts, INK4a is more important than ARF. Furthermore, organismal ageing upregulates the Ink4/Arf locus and, accordingly, reprogramming is less efficient in cells from old organisms, but this defect can be rescued by inhibiting the locus with a short hairpin RNA. All together, we conclude that the silencing of Ink4/Arf locus is rate-limiting for reprogramming, and its transient inhibition may significantly improve the generation of iPS cells.
Publication
Journal: Genome Research
May/25/2010
Abstract
DNA methylation is a critical epigenetic regulator in mammalian development. Here, we present a whole-genome comparative view of DNA methylation using bisulfite sequencing of three cultured cell types representing progressive stages of differentiation: human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), a fibroblastic differentiated derivative of the hESCs, and neonatal fibroblasts. As a reference, we compared our maps with a methylome map of a fully differentiated adult cell type, mature peripheral blood mononuclear cells (monocytes). We observed many notable common and cell-type-specific features among all cell types. Promoter hypomethylation (both CG and CA) and higher levels of gene body methylation were positively correlated with transcription in all cell types. Exons were more highly methylated than introns, and sharp transitions of methylation occurred at exon-intron boundaries, suggesting a role for differential methylation in transcript splicing. Developmental stage was reflected in both the level of global methylation and extent of non-CpG methylation, with hESC highest, fibroblasts intermediate, and monocytes lowest. Differentiation-associated differential methylation profiles were observed for developmentally regulated genes, including the HOX clusters, other homeobox transcription factors, and pluripotence-associated genes such as POU5F1, TCF3, and KLF4. Our results highlight the value of high-resolution methylation maps, in conjunction with other systems-level analyses, for investigation of previously undetectable developmental regulatory mechanisms.
Publication
Journal: Nature Biotechnology
October/9/2007
Abstract
The International Stem Cell Initiative characterized 59 human embryonic stem cell lines from 17 laboratories worldwide. Despite diverse genotypes and different techniques used for derivation and maintenance, all lines exhibited similar expression patterns for several markers of human embryonic stem cells. They expressed the glycolipid antigens SSEA3 and SSEA4, the keratan sulfate antigens TRA-1-60, TRA-1-81, GCTM2 and GCT343, and the protein antigens CD9, Thy1 (also known as CD90), tissue-nonspecific alkaline phosphatase and class 1 HLA, as well as the strongly developmentally regulated genes NANOG, POU5F1 (formerly known as OCT4), TDGF1, DNMT3B, GABRB3 and GDF3. Nevertheless, the lines were not identical: differences in expression of several lineage markers were evident, and several imprinted genes showed generally similar allele-specific expression patterns, but some gene-dependent variation was observed. Also, some female lines expressed readily detectable levels of XIST whereas others did not. No significant contamination of the lines with mycoplasma, bacteria or cytopathic viruses was detected.
Publication