Snai1 promotes ESC exit from the pluripotency by direct repression of self-renewal genes

Legend to figure: "Snai1 is localized to the nucleus of ICM-Oct3/4 positive cells of the early mouse blastocyst at E3.5."


Although much is known about the pluripotency self-renewal circuitry, the molecular events that lead embryonic stem cells (ESCs) exit from pluripotency and begin differentiation are largely unknown.

We found that the zinc finger transcription factor Snai1, involved in gastrulation and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is already expressed in the inner cell mass of the preimplantation blastocysts. In ESCs Snai1 does not respond to TGF(alpha) or BMP4 signalling but it is induced by retinoic acid (RA) treatment, which induces the binding, on the Snai1 promoter, of the retinoid receptors RAR-(gamma) and RXR-(alpha) the dissociation of the Polycomb repressor compex 2 (PRC2) which results in the decrease of H3K27me3 and the increase of histone H3K4me3. Snai1 mediates the repression of pluripotency genes by binding directly to the promoters of Nanog, Nr5a2, Tcl1, c-Kit, and Tcfcp2l1. The transient activation of Snai1 in embryoid bodies induces the expression of the markers of all three germ layers. These results suggest that Snai1 is a key factor that triggers ESCs exit from the pluripotency state and initiate their differentiation processes.

Supplementary analysis data:

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