Increased levels of FoxA1 transcription factor in pluripotent P19 embryonal carcinoma cells stimulate neural differentiation

Yongjun Tan, Zhongqiu Xie, Miao Ding, Zhendong Wang, Qiqi Yu, Lei Meng, Hong Zhu, Xiaoqin Huang, Li Yu, Xiangxian Meng, Yan Chen
Stem Cells and Development 2010, 19 (9): 1365-74
Transcription factor FoxA1 plays a critical role during embryonic development and is activated during retinoic acid (RA)-induced neural differentiation of pluripotent P19 embryonal carcinoma cells at the early stage, which is marked by decreased expression of Nanog and increased expression of neural stem cell marker Nestin. To further understand how FoxA1 mediates neural differentiation, we have overexpressed FoxA1 through an adenovirus vector in P19 cells and identified that early neurogenesis-related sonic hedgehog (Shh) gene is activated directly by FoxA1. Knockdown of FoxA1 expression during P19 cell neural differentiation results in prevention of Shh and Nestin induction. FoxA1 binds to Shh promoter at -486 to -462 bp region and activates the promoter in cotransfection assays. Furthermore, overexpression of FoxA1 alone in P19 cells stimulates expression of Nestin and results in decreased protein levels of Nanog. During RA-induced P19 cell differentiation, elevated levels of FoxA1 increase the population of neurons, evidenced by stimulated expression of neuron-specific Neurofilament-1 and Tubulin betaIII. Together, our results suggest a critical involvement of FoxA1 in stimulating neural differentiation of pluripotent stem cells at early stages.

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