Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are characterized by their ability for continuous self-renewal maintaining the undifferentiated cell state and their capacity to generate all differentiated cell types of the three germ layers. Regulators of these characteristics include a protein interaction network of pluripotency-specific factors and epigenetic mechanisms that together control the transcription of pluripotency- and differentiation-associated genes.
Among the interaction partners of the pluripotency-specific protein network in murine ESCs are Polycomb group (PcG) proteins. These proteins assemble in two complexes termed Polycomb group repressive complex 1 and 2 (PRC1 and PRC2). In the classical model, PRC1 and PRC2 act hierarchically together in catalyzing two characteristic histone modifications thereby contributing to the repression of PRC-specific target genes like differentiation-associated genes in ESCs. Recently, it has been shown that there are numerous PRC1 variants that differ in their protein composition. In this context, the family of Polycomb group RING finger (Pcgf) proteins (Pcgf1 – 6) defines distinct PRC1 variants (PRC1.1 – 1.6) that exhibit complex-specific genomic binding sites. Together, this indicates diverse mechanisms of PRC1 variants and Pcgf Paralog-specific functions that are not well understood.
Pcgf Paralogs are known to play essential roles in various stem cell types and during iPS reprogramming. Pcgf1 (Nspc1), Pcgf2 (Mel18) and Pcgf4 (Bmi1) function in diverse adult stem cells. Further, Pcgf4 plays a role in murine iPS Reprogramming. For Pcgf6 (Mblr), a pluripotency-associated function is assumed. Pcgf6 is the only Pcgf paralog with an elevated expression in murine ESCs and when ESCs differentiate Pcgf6 expression decreases. In addition, following Pcgf6 KD in ESCs the expression of Oct4, Sox2 and Nanog declines while mesodermal and testes-specific genes become de-repressed. Furthermore, Pcgf6 KD ESCs are more prone for hematopoietic lineage differentiation. The precise mechanisms by which Pcgf6 controls these processes in murine ESCs are not known.
In this work, I investigated the function of Pcgf6 in murine iPS reprogramming. I assumed a role for Pcgf6 in iPS reprogramming because it is highly expressed in ESCs and it was recently shown that Pcgf4 plays a role in the reprogramming of somatic cells. The data of my work show that Pcgf6 expression is increased in iPS reprogramming and that Pcgf6 exhibits an ESC-like gene expression pattern in iPS cells. Furthermore, Pcgf6 was able to replace the transcription factor Sox2 in combination with Oct4, Klf4 and c-Myc. In addition, OPKM-induced iPS cells showed pluripotency-specific characteristics. The overexpression of Pcgf6 together with the OSKM factors did not result in significantly increased reprogramming efficiencies indicating that Pcgf6 does not function as an enhancer-factor. However, Pcgf6 knockdown (KD) in mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) resulted in decreased efficiencies after iPS reprogramming. Additionally, the majority of AP+ colonies formed after OSKM reprogramming of Pcgf6 KD MEFs represented partially reprogrammed iPS cells, as they did not exhibit ESC-like morphologies and reduced expression levels of Oct4, Sox2 and Nanog.
Together, the data of my work show that Pcgf6 is a new and essential factor in iPS reprogramming that can specifically replace the transcription factor Sox2 in combination with Oct4, Klf4 and c-Myc.
|Advisor:||Müller , Albrecht M , Hock , Robert|
|School:||Bayerische Julius-Maximilians-Universitaet Wuerzburg (Germany)|
|Source:||DAI-C 81/1(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Embryonic stem cells|
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