Comprehensive Identification of Krüppel-Like Factor Family Members Contributing to the Self-Renewal of Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells and Cellular Reprogramming

Hyojung Jeon, Tsuyoshi Waku, Takuya Azami, Le Tran Phuc Khoa, Jun Yanagisawa, Satoru Takahashi, Masatsugu Ema
PloS One 2016, 11 (3): e0150715
Pluripotency is maintained in mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells and is induced from somatic cells by the activation of appropriate transcriptional regulatory networks. Krüppel-like factor gene family members, such as Klf2, Klf4 and Klf5, have important roles in maintaining the undifferentiated state of mouse ES cells as well as in cellular reprogramming, yet it is not known whether other Klf family members exert self-renewal and reprogramming functions when overexpressed. In this study, we examined whether overexpression of any representative Klf family member, such as Klf1-Klf10, would be sufficient for the self-renewal of mouse ES cells. We found that only Klf2, Klf4, and Klf5 produced leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF)-independent self-renewal, although most KLF proteins, if not all, have the ability to occupy the regulatory regions of Nanog, a critical Klf target gene. We also examined whether overexpression of any of Klf1-Klf10 would be sufficient to convert epiblast stem cells into a naïve pluripotent state and found that Klf5 had such reprogramming ability, in addition to Klf2 and Klf4. We also delineated the functional domains of the Klf2 protein for LIF-independent self-renewal and reprogramming. Interestingly, we found that both the N-terminal transcriptional activation and C-terminal zinc finger domains were indispensable for this activity. Taken together, our comprehensive analysis provides new insight into the contribution of Klf family members to mouse ES self-renewal and cellular reprogramming.

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