Pou5f1 Post-translational Modifications Modulate Gene Expression and Cell Fate

Title: Pou5f1 Post-translational Modifications Modulate Gene Expression and Cell Fate
Authors: Campbell, Pearl
Date: 2012
Abstract: Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are characterized by their unlimited capacity for self-renewal and the ability to contribute to every lineage of the developing embryo. The promoters of developmentally regulated loci within these cells are marked by coincident epigenetic modifications of gene activation and repression, termed bivalent domains. Trithorax group (TrxG) and Polycomb Group (PcG) proteins respectively place these epigenetic marks on chromatin and extensively colocalize with Oct4 in ESCs. Although it appears that these cells are poised and ready for differentiation, the switch that permits this transition is critically held in check. The derepression of bivalent domains upon knockdown of Oct4 or PcG underscores their respective roles in maintaining the pluripotent state through epigenetic regulation of chromatin structure. The mechanisms that facilitate the recruitment and retention of Oct4, TrxG, and PcG proteins at developmentally regulated loci to maintain the pluripotent state, however, remain unknown. Oct4 may function as either a transcriptional activator or repressor. Prevailing thought holds that both of these activities are required to maintain the pluripotent state through activation of genes implicated in pluripotency and cell-cycle control with concomitant repression of genes required for differentiation and lineage-specific differentiation. More recent evidence however, suggests that the activator function of Oct4 may play a more critical role in maintaining the pluripotent state (Hammachi et al., 2012). The purpose of the studies described in this dissertation was to clarify the underlying mechanisms by which Oct4 functions in transcriptional activation and repression. By so doing, we wished to contextualize its role in pluripotent cells, and to provide insight into how changes in Oct4 function might account for its ability to facilitate cell fate transitions. As a result of our studies we find that Oct4 function is dependent upon post-translational modifications (PTMs). We find through a combination of experimental approaches, including genome-wide microarray analysis, bioinformatics, chromatin immunoprecipitation, functional molecular, and biochemical analyses, that in the pluripotent state Oct4, Akt, and Hmgb2 participate in a regulatory feedback loop. Akt-mediated phosphorylation of Oct4 facilitates interaction with PcG recruiter Hmgb2. Consequently, Hmgb2 functions as a context dependent modulator of Akt and Oct4 function, promoting transcriptional poise at Oct4 bound loci. Sumoylation of Oct4 is then required to maintain Hmgb2 enrichment at repressed loci and to transmit the H3K27me3 mark in daughter progeny. The expression of Oct4 phosphorylation mutants however, leads to Akt inactivation and initiates the DNA Damage Checkpoint response. Our results suggest that this may subsequently facilitate chromatin reorganization and cell fate transitions. In summary, our results suggest that controlled modulation of Oct4, Akt, and Hmgb2 function is required to maintain pluripotency and for the faithful induction of transcriptional programs required for lineage specific differentiation.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/23607
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -
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