Embryonic stem cell-related miRNAs are involved in differentiation of pluripotent cells originating from the germ line

Athanasios Zovoilis, Angeliki Pantazi, Lukasz Smorag, Lennart Opitz, Gabriela Salinas Riester, Marieke Wolf, Ulrich Zechner, Anna Holubowska, Colin L Stewart, Wolfgang Engel
Molecular Human Reproduction 2010, 16 (11): 793-803
Cells originating from the germ cell lineage retain the remarkable property under special culture conditions to give rise to cells with embryonic stem cell (ESC) properties, such as the multipotent adult germline stem cells (maGSCs) derived from adult mouse testis. To get an insight into the mechanisms that control pluripotency and differentiation in these cells, we studied how differences observed during in vitro differentiation between ESCs and maGSCs are associated with differences at the level of microRNAs (miRNAs). In this work, we provide for a first time a connection between germ cell origin of maGSCs and their specific miRNA expression profile. We found that maGSCs express higher levels of germ cell markers characteristic for primordial germ cells (PGCs) and spermatogonia compared with ESCs. Retained expression of miR-290 cluster has been previously reported in maGSCs during differentiation and it was associated with higher Oct-4 levels. Here, we show that this property is also shared by another pluripotent cell line originating from the germ line, the embryonic germ cells. In addition, we provide proof that the specific miRNA expression profile of maGSCs has an impact on their differentiation potential. Low levels of miR-302 in maGSCs during the first 10 days of leukaemia inhibitory factor deprivation are shown to be necessary for the maintenance of high levels of early germ cell markers.

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