Tiago Faial

University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England, United Kingdom

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Publications (6)69.05 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The transcription factor brachyury (T, BRA) is one of the first markers of gastrulation and lineage specification in vertebrates. Despite its wide use and importance in stem cell and developmental biology, its functional genomic targets in human cells are largely unknown. Here, we use differentiating human embryonic stem cells to study the role of BRA in activin A-induced endoderm and BMP4-induced mesoderm progenitors. We show that BRA has distinct genome-wide binding landscapes in these two cell populations, and that BRA interacts and collaborates with SMAD1 or SMAD2/3 signalling to regulate the expression of its target genes in a cell-specific manner. Importantly, by manipulating the levels of BRA in cells exposed to different signalling environments, we demonstrate that BRA is essential for mesoderm but not for endoderm formation. Together, our data illuminate the function of BRA in the context of human embryonic development and show that the regulatory role of BRA is context dependent. Our study reinforces the importance of analysing the functions of a transcription factor in different cellular and signalling environments. © 2015. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.
    Development 05/2015; 142(12). DOI:10.1242/dev.117838 · 6.46 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Naive and primed pluripotency is characterized by distinct signaling requirements, transcriptomes, and developmental properties, but both cellular states share key transcriptional regulators: Oct4, Sox2, and Nanog. Here, we demonstrate that transition between these two pluripotent states is associated with widespread Oct4 relocalization, mirrored by global rearrangement of enhancer chromatin landscapes. Our genomic and biochemical analyses identified candidate mediators of primed state-specific Oct4 binding, including Otx2 and Zic2/3. Even when differentiation cues are blocked, premature Otx2 overexpression is sufficient to exit the naive state, induce transcription of a substantial subset of primed pluripotency-associated genes, and redirect Oct4 to previously inaccessible enhancer sites. However, the ability of Otx2 to engage new enhancer regions is determined by its levels, cis-encoded properties of the sites, and the signaling environment. Our results illuminate regulatory mechanisms underlying pluripotency and suggest that the capacity of transcription factors such as Otx2 and Oct4 to pioneer new enhancer sites is highly context dependent.
    Cell Stem Cell 06/2014; 14(6):838-853. DOI:10.1016/j.stem.2014.04.003 · 22.27 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The design of effective cell replacement therapies requires detailed knowledge of how embryonic stem cells form primary tissues, such as mesoderm or neurectoderm that later become skeletal muscle or nervous system. Members of the T-box transcription factor family are key in the formation of these primary tissues, but their underlying molecular activities are poorly understood. Here, we define in vivo genome-wide regulatory inputs of the T-box proteins Brachyury, Eomesodermin, and VegT, which together maintain neuromesodermal stem cells and determine their bipotential fates in frog embryos. These T-box proteins are all recruited to the same genomic recognition sites, from where they activate genes involved in stem cell maintenance and mesoderm formation while repressing neurogenic genes. Consequently, their loss causes embryos to form an oversized neural tube with no mesodermal derivatives. This collaboration between T-box family members thus ensures the continuous formation of correctly proportioned neural and mesodermal tissues in vertebrate embryos during axial elongation.
    Cell Reports 09/2013; 4(6). DOI:10.1016/j.celrep.2013.08.012 · 8.36 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The T-box transcription factor Brachyury (T) is essential for formation of the posterior mesoderm and the notochord in vertebrate embryos. Work in the frog and the zebrafish has identified some direct genomic targets of Brachyury, but little is known about Brachyury targets in the mouse. Here we use chromatin immunoprecipitation and mouse promoter microarrays to identify targets of Brachyury in embryoid bodies formed from differentiating mouse ES cells. The targets we identify are enriched for sequence-specific DNA binding proteins and include components of signal transduction pathways that direct cell fate in the primitive streak and tailbud of the early embryo. Expression of some of these targets, such as Axin2, Fgf8 and Wnt3a, is down regulated in Brachyury mutant embryos and we demonstrate that they are also Brachyury targets in the human. Surprisingly, we do not observe enrichment of the canonical T-domain DNA binding sequence 5'-TCACACCT-3' in the vicinity of most Brachyury target genes. Rather, we have identified an (AC)(n) repeat sequence, which is conserved in the rat but not in human, zebrafish or Xenopus. We do not understand the significance of this sequence, but speculate that it enhances transcription factor binding in the regulatory regions of Brachyury target genes in rodents. Our work identifies the genomic targets of a key regulator of mesoderm formation in the early mouse embryo, thereby providing insights into the Brachyury-driven genetic regulatory network and allowing us to compare the function of Brachyury in different species.
    PLoS ONE 03/2012; 7(3):e33346. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0033346 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BMP is thought to induce hESC differentiation toward multiple lineages including mesoderm and trophoblast. The BMP-induced trophoblast phenotype is a long-standing paradox in stem cell biology. Here we readdressed BMP function in hESCs and mouse epiblast-derived cells. We found that BMP4 cooperates with FGF2 (via ERK) to induce mesoderm and to inhibit endoderm differentiation. These conditions induced cells with high levels of BRACHYURY (BRA) that coexpressed CDX2. BRA was necessary for and preceded CDX2 expression; both genes were essential for expression not only of mesodermal genes but also of trophoblast-associated genes. Maximal expression of the latter was seen in the absence of FGF but these cells coexpressed mesodermal genes and moreover they differed in cell surface and epigenetic properties from placental trophoblast. We conclude that BMP induces human and mouse pluripotent stem cells primarily to form mesoderm, rather than trophoblast, acting through BRA and CDX2.
    Cell stem cell 08/2011; 9(2):144-55. DOI:10.1016/j.stem.2011.06.015 · 22.27 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Neural crest is a source of diverse cell types, including the peripheral nervous system. The transcription factor Sox10 is expressed throughout early neural crest. We exploited Sox10 reporter and selection markers created by homologous recombination to investigate the generation, maintenance and expansion of neural crest progenitors. Sox10-GFP-positive cells are produced transiently from mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells by treatment with retinoic acid in combination with Fgf8b and the cytokine leukaemia inhibitory factor (Lif). We found that expression of Sox10 can be maintained using noggin, Wnt3a, Lif and endothelin (NWLE). ES cell-derived Sox10-GFP-positive cells cultured in NWLE exhibit molecular markers of neural crest progenitors. They differentiate into peripheral neurons in vitro and are able to colonise the enteric network in organotypic gut cultures. Neural crest cells purified from embryos using the Sox10 reporter also survive in NWLE, but progressively succumb to differentiation. We therefore applied selection to eliminate differentiating cells. Sox10-selected cells could be clonally expanded, cryopreserved, and multiplied for over 50 days in adherent culture. They remained neurogenic in vitro and in foetal gut grafts. Generation of neural crest from mouse ES cells opens a new route to the identification and validation of determination factors. Furthermore, the ability to propagate undifferentiated progenitors creates an opportunity for experimental dissection of the stimuli and molecular circu that govern neural crest lineage progression. Finally, the demonstration of robust enteric neurogenesis provides a system for investigating and modelling cell therapeutic approaches to neurocristopathies such as Hirschsprung's disease.
    Development 03/2010; 137(5):693-704. DOI:10.1242/dev.046896 · 6.46 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

195 Citations
69.05 Total Impact Points


  • 2010–2015
    • University of Cambridge
      • • Department of Zoology
      • • Department of Biochemistry
      Cambridge, England, United Kingdom
  • 2014
    • Stanford University
      • Department of Chemical and Systems Biology
      Palo Alto, California, United States