The regulatory role of histone deacetylase inhibitors in Fgf4 expression is dependent on the differentiation state of pluripotent stem cells

Guilai Shi, Furong Gao, Ying Jin
Journal of Cellular Physiology 2011, 226 (12): 3190-6
The identity of embryonic stem cells (ESCs) is controlled by a set of pluripotency genes, including Oct4, Sox2, Nanog, and Fgf4. How their expression is repressed during differentiation and reactivated during reprogramming is largely unknown. Here, using mouse ESCs as well as F9 and P19 cells (mouse embryonal carcinoma cell lines, P19 being considered further differentiated than F9 cells) as models, we found that HDAC inhibitors elevated Fgf4 expression in P19 cells, but reduced it in F9 cells. We also observed that HDAC inhibitors enhanced the expression of Fgf4 and a subset of pluripotency genes in differentiated ESCs, but reduced their expression in undifferentiated and less differentiated ESCs. Mechanistically, we observed more HDAC1 recruitment and a weaker association of histone 4 lysine 5 acetylation at the Fgf4 enhancer in P19 cells compared to F9 cells. Additionally, we demonstrated the interaction between Sox2 and HDAC1 both in vitro and in vivo, implicating a possible role for Sox2 in the recruitment of HDAC1 to the Fgf4 enhancer. We also found that Nanog bound to the Fgf4 enhancer, and this binding was stronger in F9 cells, indicating the involvement of Nanog in the regulation of Fgf4 expression in undifferentiated and less differentiated pluripotent stem cells. This study uncovers an important role of HDAC1 and histone modifications in the repression of Fgf4 and perhaps other pluripotency genes during ESC differentiation. Our results also suggest that HDAC inhibitors may promote reprogramming partially through activating pluripotency genes at some intermediate stages.

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