[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: 'In this report, we use single cell gene expression to identify transcriptional patterns emerging during the differentiation of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) into the endodermal lineage. Endoderm-specific transcripts are highly variable between individual CXCR4(+) endodermal cells, suggesting that either the cells generated from in vitro differentiation are distinct or that these embryonic cells tolerate a high degree of transcript variability. Housekeeping transcripts, on the other hand, are far more consistently expressed within the same cellular population. However, when we compare the levels of housekeeping transcripts between hESCs and derived endoderm, patterns emerge that can be used to clearly separate the two embryonic cell types. We further compared four additional human cell types, including 293T, induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC), HepG2, and endoderm-derived iPSC. In each case, the relative levels of housekeeping transcripts defined a particular cell fate. Interestingly, we find that three transcripts, LDHA, NONO, and ACTB, contribute the most to this diversity and together serve to segregate all six cell types. Overall, this suggests that levels of housekeeping transcripts, which are expressed within all cells, can be leveraged to distinguish between human cell types and thus may serve as important biomarkers for stem cell biology and other disciplines.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The first stages of embryonic differentiation are driven by signaling pathways hardwired to induce particular fates. Endoderm commitment is controlled by the TGF-β superfamily member, Nodal, which utilizes the transcription factors, SMAD2/3, SMAD4 and FOXH1, to drive target gene expression. While the role of Nodal is well defined within the context of endoderm commitment, mechanistically it is unknown how this signal interacts with chromatin on a genome wide scale to trigger downstream responses. To elucidate the Nodal transcriptional network that governs endoderm formation, we used ChIP-seq to identify genomic targets for SMAD2/3, SMAD3, SMAD4, FOXH1 and the active and repressive chromatin marks, H3K4me3 and H3K27me3, in human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and derived endoderm. We demonstrate that while SMAD2/3, SMAD4 and FOXH1 associate with DNA in a highly dynamic fashion, there is an optimal bivalent signature at 32 gene loci for driving endoderm commitment. Initially, this signature is marked by both H3K4me3 and H3K27me3 as a very broad bivalent domain in hESCs. Within the first 24h, SMAD2/3 accumulation coincides with H3K27me3 reduction so that these loci become monovalent marked by H3K4me3. JMJD3, a histone demethylase, is simultaneously recruited to these promoters, suggesting a conservation of mechanism at multiple promoters genome-wide. The correlation between SMAD2/3 binding, monovalent formation and transcriptional activation suggests a mechanism by which SMAD proteins coordinate with chromatin at critical promoters to drive endoderm specification.
No preview · Article · Jun 2011 · Developmental Biology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To investigate the role of DNA methylation during human development, we developed Methyl-seq, a method that assays DNA methylation at more than 90,000 regions throughout the genome. Performing Methyl-seq on human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), their derivatives, and human tissues allowed us to identify several trends during hESC and in vivo liver differentiation. First, differentiation results in DNA methylation changes at a minimal number of assayed regions, both in vitro and in vivo (2%-11%). Second, in vitro hESC differentiation is characterized by both de novo methylation and demethylation, whereas in vivo fetal liver development is characterized predominantly by demethylation. Third, hESC differentiation is uniquely characterized by methylation changes specifically at H3K27me3-occupied regions, bivalent domains, and low density CpG promoters (LCPs), suggesting that these regions are more likely to be involved in transcriptional regulation during hESC differentiation. Although both H3K27me3-occupied domains and LCPs are also regions of high variability in DNA methylation state during human liver development, these regions become highly unmethylated, which is a distinct trend from that observed in hESCs. Taken together, our results indicate that hESC differentiation has a unique DNA methylation signature that may not be indicative of in vivo differentiation.