SWI/SNF-Brg1 regulates self-renewal and occupies core pluripotency-related genes in embryonic stem cells

Benjamin L Kidder, Stephen Palmer, Jason G Knott
Stem Cells 2009, 27 (2): 317-28
The SWI/SNF-Brg1 chromatin remodeling protein plays critical roles in cell-cycle control and differentiation through regulation of gene expression. Loss of Brg1 in mice results in early embryonic lethality, and recent studies have implicated a role for Brg1 in somatic stem cell self-renewal and differentiation. However, little is known about Brg1 function in preimplantation embryos and embryonic stem (ES) cells. Here we report that Brg1 is required for ES cell self-renewal and pluripotency. RNA interference-mediated knockdown of Brg1 in blastocysts caused aberrant expression of Oct4 and Nanog. In ES cells, knockdown of Brg1 resulted in phenotypic changes indicative of differentiation, downregulation of self-renewal and pluripotency genes (e.g., Oct4, Sox2, Sall4, Rest), and upregulation of differentiation genes. Using genome-wide promoter analysis (chromatin immunoprecipitation) we found that Brg1 occupied the promoters of key pluripotency-related genes, including Oct4, Sox2, Nanog, Sall4, Rest, and Polycomb group (PcG) proteins. Moreover, Brg1 co-occupied a subset of Oct4, Sox2, Nanog, and PcG protein target genes. These results demonstrate an important role for Brg1 in regulating self-renewal and pluripotency in ES cells.

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