The H19 induction triggers trophoblast lineage commitment in mouse ES cells

Hiroaki Fujimori, Hiroaki Mukai, Yasufumi Murakami, Myriam Hemberger, Yoshitaka Hippo, Mitsuko Masutani
Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 2013 June 28, 436 (2): 313-8
Trophoblast lineage differentiation is properly regulated to support embryogenesis. Besides normal developmental process, during germ cell tumor formation or development of other reproductive system diseases, unregulated trophoblast differentiation is also observed and affects the pathogenesis of the diseases. During normal embryogenesis, cell fate of late-stage blastcyst is regulated by a reciprocal repression of the key transcriptional factors; Oct3/4 dominancy inhibits Cdx2 expression in inner cell mass (ICM) and leads them to epiblast/primitive ectoderm but Cdx2 dominancy in trophectoderm (TE) leads them to trophoblast lineage. In contrast during early blastcyst stage, the Cdx2 expression is restricted in TE and not present in ICM, although Oct3/4 signaling does not inhibit the Cdx2 expression in ICM, implying that some factors could be inactivated leading to the suppressed Cdx2 expression in ICM of early blastcyst. ES cells (ESCs), which are derived from ICM, could be a unique model to study trophoblast differentiation in an ectopic context. We previously showed that poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 (Parp-1) deficient ESCs highly expressed non-coding RNA H19 and could differentiate into trophoblast lineage. The expression of H19 is known to start at pre-blastcyst stage during mouse development, and the gene shows high expression only in trophoectoderm (TE) at blastcyst stage. However, its role in trophoblast differentiation has not been clarified yet. Thus, we hypothesized that the H19 activation may act as a trigger for induction of trophoblast differentiation cascade in mouse ESCs. To investigate this issue, we asked whether a forced H19 expression drives ESCs into trophoblast lineage or not. We demonstrated that the H19 induction leads to trophoblast lineage commitment through induction of the Cdx2 expression. We also showed that the expression of Cdx2 is induced in ESCs by forced H19 expression even under a high level of Oct3/4, which could act as a suppressor for Cdx2 expression. It is thus suggested that the H19 induction promotes trophoblast lineage commitment against the repression pressure by Oct3/4 in differentiating ESCs. Taken together, this study suggests that the H19 expression is able to function as a cascade activator of trophoblast lineage commitment possibly by overriding the Oct3/4 action in ESCs.

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