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Quantitative expression of Oct-3/4 defines differentiation, dedifferentiation or self-renewal of ES cells.

TitleQuantitative expression of Oct-3/4 defines differentiation, dedifferentiation or self-renewal of ES cells.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2000
AuthorsNiwa H, Miyazaki J, Smith AG
JournalNat Genet
Date Published2000 Apr
KeywordsAnimals, Cell Differentiation, Cell Division, Cell Line, Cell Lineage, Clone Cells, DNA-Binding Proteins, Down-Regulation, Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental, Genes, Regulator, Genes, Reporter, Mice, Octamer Transcription Factor-3, RNA, Messenger, Stem Cells, Transcription Factors, Transcription, Genetic, Transfection, Up-Regulation

Cell fate during development is defined by transcription factors that act as molecular switches to activate or repress specific gene expression programmes. The POU transcription factor Oct-3/4 (encoded by Pou5f1) is a candidate regulator in pluripotent and germline cells and is essential for the initial formation of a pluripotent founder cell population in the mammalian embryo. Here we use conditional expression and repression in embryonic stem (ES) cells to determine requirements for Oct-3/4 in the maintenance of developmental potency. Although transcriptional determination has usually been considered as a binary on-off control system, we found that the precise level of Oct-3/4 governs three distinct fates of ES cells. A less than twofold increase in expression causes differentiation into primitive endoderm and mesoderm. In contrast, repression of Oct-3/4 induces loss of pluripotency and dedifferentiation to trophectoderm. Thus a critical amount of Oct-3/4 is required to sustain stem-cell self-renewal, and up- or downregulation induce divergent developmental programmes. Our findings establish a role for Oct-3/4 as a master regulator of pluripotency that controls lineage commitment and illustrate the sophistication of critical transcriptional regulators and the consequent importance of quantitative analyses.

Alternate JournalNat. Genet.
PubMed ID10742100