Silencing histone deacetylase-specific isoforms enhances expression of pluripotency genes in bovine fibroblasts

Jaroslaw Staszkiewicz, Rachel A Power, Lettie L Harkins, Christian W Barnes, Karen L Strickler, Jong S Rim, Kenneth R Bondioli, Kenneth J Eilersten
Cellular Reprogramming 2013, 15 (5): 397-404
Histone deacetylases (HDACs) catalyze deacetylation of histones that results in altered transcriptional activity. Inhibitors of HDACs have been shown to induce transcriptional changes that contribute positively to reprogramming somatic cells either by nuclear transfer or inducing a pluripotent state. However, the exact molecular mechanisms whereby HDAC inhibitors function and the specificity of the HDAC isoforms in cell reprogramming are not yet fully understood. Herein, we report the ability of individual isoform-specific HDACs to modulate endogenous expression of pluripotency-associated genes in bovine somatic cells. This in vitro study showed that a transient selective depletion of HDACs resulted in elevated mRNA levels of Oct-4, Sox2, and Nanog. In particular, we found that inhibition of specific HDAC isoforms using small interfering (si) RNA significantly increased expression of Nanog, a key factor required for totipotency induced by somatic cell nuclear transfer and for maintaining pluripotency in embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells. Our study suggests that this gene might be the most susceptible to HDAC activity inhibition. Moreover, a regulatory role of the class III HDAC, SIRT3, on an Oct4-Sox2-Nanog transcriptional network was revealed. We observed the upregulation of pluripotency-related genes by depletion of SIRT3. SIRT3 is localized to mitochondria and is associated with energy metabolism processes, suggesting metabolic changes may be linked to reprogramming in bovine fibroblasts. In conclusion, we show that targeting selective HDACs can potentially be useful to enhance reprogramming and that sirtuins may play a pivotal role in somatic cell reprogramming by upregulating an Oct4-Sox2-Nanog transcriptional network. Dedifferentiating donor somatic cells by upregulating developmentally important genes through specific knockdown of epigenetic targets, in particular HDACs, may provide a path to improving livestock cloning and the in vitro production of pluripotent cells.


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