Stem cells in the adult pituitary are quiescent yet show acute activation upon tissue injury. The molecular mechanisms underlying this reaction are completely unknown. We applied single-cell transcriptomics to start unraveling the acute pituitary stem cell activation process as occurring upon targeted endocrine cell–ablation damage. This stem cell reaction was contrasted with the aging (middle-aged) pituitary, known to have lost damage-repair capacity. Stem cells in the aging pituitary show regressed proliferative activation upon injury and diminished in vitro organoid formation. Single-cell RNA sequencing uncovered interleukin-6 (IL-6) as being up-regulated upon damage, however only in young but not aging pituitary. Administering IL-6 to young mice promptly triggered pituitary stem cell proliferation, while blocking IL-6 or associated signaling pathways inhibited such reaction to damage. By contrast, IL-6 did not generate a pituitary stem cell activation response in aging mice, coinciding with elevated basal IL-6 levels and raised inflammatory state in the aging gland (inflammaging). Intriguingly, in vitro stem cell activation by IL-6 was discerned in organoid culture not only from young but also from aging pituitary, indicating that the aging gland’s stem cells retain intrinsic activatability in vivo, likely impeded by the prevailing inflammatory tissue milieu. Importantly, IL-6 supplementation strongly enhanced the growth capability of pituitary stem cell organoids, thereby expanding their potential as an experimental model. Our study identifies IL-6 as a pituitary stem cell activator upon local damage, a competence quenched at aging, concomitant with raised IL-6/inflammatory levels in the older gland. These insights may open the way to interfering with pituitary aging.
Induction and reversal of chromatin silencing is critical for successful development, tissue homeostasis, and the derivation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). X-Chromosome inactivation (XCI) and reactivation (XCR) in female cells represent chromosome-wide transitions between active and inactive chromatin states. Although XCI has long been studied, providing important insights into gene regulation, the dynamics and mechanisms underlying the reversal of stable chromatin silencing of X-linked genes are much less understood. Here, we use allele-specific transcriptomics to study XCR during mouse iPSC reprogramming in order to elucidate the timing and mechanisms of chromosome-wide reversal of gene silencing. We show that XCR is hierarchical, with subsets of genes reactivating early, late, and very late during reprogramming. Early genes are activated before the onset of late pluripotency genes activation. Early genes are located genomically closer to genes that escape XCI, unlike genes reactivating late. Early genes also show increased pluripotency transcription factor (TF) binding. We also reveal that histone deacetylases (HDACs) restrict XCR in reprogramming intermediates and that the severe hypoacetylation state of the inactive X Chromosome (Xi) persists until late reprogramming stages. Altogether, these results reveal the timing of transcriptional activation of monoallelically repressed genes during iPSC reprogramming, and suggest that allelic activation involves the combined action of chromatin topology, pluripotency TFs, and chromatin regulators. These findings are important for our understanding of gene silencing, maintenance of cell identity, reprogramming, and disease.
Defective cell migration causes delayed wound healing (WH) and chronic skin lesions. Autologous micrograft (AMG) therapies have recently emerged as a new effective and affordable treatment able to improve wound healing capacity. However, the precise molecular mechanism through which AMG exhibits its beneficial effects remains unrevealed. Herein we show that AMG improves skin re-epithelialization by accelerating the migration of fibroblasts and keratinocytes. More specifically, AMG-treated wounds showed improvement of indispensable events associated with successful wound healing such as granulation tissue formation, organized collagen content, and newly formed blood vessels. We demonstrate that AMG is enriched with a pool of WH-associated growth factors that may provide the starting signal for a faster endogenous wound healing response. This work links the increased cell migration rate to the activation of the extracellular signalregulated kinase (ERK) signaling pathway, which is followed by an increase in matrix metalloproteinase expression and their extracellular enzymatic activity. Overall we reveal the AMG-mediated wound healing transcriptional signature and shed light on the AMG molecular mechanism supporting its potential to trigger a highly improved wound healing process. In this way, we present a framework for future improvements in AMG therapy for skin tissue regeneration applications.
SummaryReprogramming female mouse somatic cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) leads to X-chromosome reactivation. The extent to which increased X-chromosome dosage (X-dosage) in female iPSCs compared with male iPSCs leads to differences in the properties of iPSCs is still unclear. We show that chromatin accessibility in mouse iPSCs is modulated by X-dosage. Specific sets of transcriptional regulator motifs are enriched in chromatin with increased accessibility in XX or XY iPSCs. The transcriptome, growth and pluripotency exit are also modulated by X-dosage in iPSCs. To understand how increased X-dosage modulates the properties of mouse pluripotent stem cells, we used heterozygous deletions of the X-linked gene Dusp9. We show that X-dosage regulates the transcriptome, open chromatin landscape, growth, and pluripotency exit largely independently of global DNA methylation. Our results provide insights into how gene dosage modulates the epigenetic and genetic mechanisms that regulate cell identity.
Totipotency is the ability of a single cell to give rise to all the differentiated cells that build the conceptus, yet how to capture this property in vitro remains incompletely understood. Defining totipotency relies upon a variety of assays of variable stringency. Here we describe criteria to define totipotency. We illustrate how distinct criteria of increasing stringency can be used to judge totipotency by evaluating candidate totipotent cell types in the mouse, including early blastomeres and expanded or extended pluripotent stem cells. Our data challenge the notion that expanded or extended pluripotent states harbor increased totipotent potential relative to conventional embryonic stem cells under in vivo conditions.
Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are involved in the remodeling of extracellular matrix in various tissues. Their functioning could be related to the formation of complexes, containing MMP9, MMP2, tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases type 1 (TIMP1), and neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL). Such complexes have not been investigated in either myocardial or skeletal muscles. We examined 20 male pigs with heart failure (HF), and 5 sham-operated animals. There were no differences in the mRNA expression of MMP9, MMP2, TIMP1, and NGAL between diseased and healthy animals, in either left ventricle (LV) myocardium or skeletal muscles. In LV from both diseased and healthy animals, in nonreducing and nondenaturing conditions, we demonstrated the presence of high molecular weight (HMW) complexes (130, 170, and 220 kDa) containing MMP9, TIMP1, and NGAL (also MMP2 in 220 kDa complex) without proteolytic activity, and a proteolytically active 115 kDa MMP9 form together with 72 and 68 kDa bands (proMMP2 and MMP2). Proteolytically active bands were also spontaneously released from HMW complexes. In skeletal muscles from both diseased and healthy animals, in nonreducing and nondenaturing conditions, we found no HMW complexes, and proteolytic activity was associated with the presence of 72 and 68 kDa bands (proMMP2 and MMP2).
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