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Epiblast Stem Cells

Roles for Prdm14 and Klf2 for Pluripotency and Totipotency? - Epiblast Stem Cell-Based System Reveals Reprogramming Synergy of Germline Factors


Studies of the human germ line are, for obvious reasons, difficult to establish and therefore effective in vitro model systems to study the human germ line formation and subsequent specifications are attractive prospects. Primordial germ cells (PGCs) arise from the post-implantation epiblast of the embryo, and stem cells derived from these cells (Epiblast stem cells or EpiSCs) have the potential to revert to embryonic stem cells (ESCs) (Bao et al) or become specified to PGCs (Hayashi and Surani (2009b)) which, while distinct, share common features; inactive X chromosome (Xi) reactivation, distinct changes to epigenetic modifications and the expression of specific pluripotency genes (Hayashi and Surani (2009a)).   Using this knowledge, researchers from the laboratory of M. Azim Surani at the Gurdon  Institute, University of Cambridge, UK have designed a culture-based system for the reprogramming of EpiSCs to ESCs as a model to delineate important factors and mechanisms behind EpiSC reversion/PGC specification. This has allowed the discovery of  a key role for the synergistic relationship between Prdm14-Klf2 in reprogramming which includes X-reactivation and key epigenetic changes (Gillich et al), providing a key insight into how germ cells can transit to the epigenetic ground state or the PGC fate.

Distinct Developmental Ground States of Epiblast Stem Cell Lines Determine Different Pluripotency Features

From the October Edition of Stem Cells
By Stuart P. Atkinson

Epiblast stem cells (EpiSCs) are derived from postimplantation mouse embryos from embryonic day (E) 5.5 to E7.5 (Brons et al and Tesar et al) and appear to share more characteristics with human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) than with mouse ESCs (mESCs) (Greber et al). EpiSCs are considered to be pluripotent, as they form teratomas upon injection into immunocompromised mice, but do not efficiently colonize host embryos when injected into blastocysts. Hans R. Schöler from the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine, Münster, Germany has suggested that a better understanding of EpiSCs may allow a greater understanding of hESCs, and a paper in the October edition of Stem Cells from his group (Bernemann et al) describes the systematic characterisation of a panel of independent EpiSC lines derived in several different laboratories to determine whether there are any functional differences. What they have discovered is that although some basic characteristics are conserved, mesodermal gene expression patterns often associated with the EpiSC state are not consistent and are associated with differentiation potential and the ability of the cells to revert to the mESC-like state.

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