The function of metabolic state in stemness is poorly understood. Mouse embryonic stem cells (ESC) and epiblast stem cells (EpiSC) are at distinct pluripotent states representing the inner cell mass (ICM) and epiblast embryos. Human embryonic stem cells (hESC) are similar to EpiSC stage. We now show a dramatic metabolic difference between these two stages. EpiSC/hESC are highly glycolytic, while ESC are bivalent in their energy production, dynamically switching from glycolysis to mitochondrial respiration on demand. Despite having a more developed and expanding mitochondrial content, EpiSC/hESC have low mitochondrial respiratory capacity due to low cytochrome c oxidase (COX) expression. Similarly, in vivo epiblasts suppress COX levels. These data reveal EpiSC/ hESC functional similarity to the glycolytic phenotype in cancer (Warburg effect). We further show that hypoxiainducible factor 1a (HIF1a) is sufficient to drive ESC to a glycolytic Activin/Nodal-dependent EpiSC-like stage. This metabolic switch during early stem-cell development may be deterministic.
One of the key characteristics of stem cells is their capacity to divide for long periods of time in an environment where most of the cells are quiescent. Therefore, a critical question in stem cell biology is how stem cells escape cell division stop signals. Here, we report the necessity of the microRNA (miRNA) pathway for proper control of germline stem cell (GSC) division in Drosophila melanogaster. Analysis of GSCs mutant for dicer-1 (dcr-1), the double-stranded RNaseIII essential for miRNA biogenesis, revealed a marked reduction in the rate of germline cyst production. These dcr-1 mutant GSCs exhibit normal identity but are defective in cell cycle control. On the basis of cell cycle markers and genetic interactions, we conclude that dcr-1 mutant GSCs are delayed in the G1 to S transition, which is dependent on the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor Dacapo, suggesting that miRNAs are required for stem cells to bypass the normal G1/S checkpoint. Hence, the miRNA pathway might be part of a mechanism that makes stem cells insensitive to environmental signals that normally stop the cell cycle at the G1/S transition.
The naïve pluripotent state has been shown in mice to lead to broad and more robust developmental potential relative to primed mouse epiblast cells. The human naïve ES cell state has eluded derivation without the use of transgenes, and forced expression of OCT4, KLF4, and KLF2 allows maintenance of human cells in a naïve state [Hanna J, et al. (2010) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 107 (20):9222-9227]. We describe two routes to generate nontransgenic naïve human ES cells (hESCs). The first is by reverse toggling of preexisting primed hESC lines by preculture in the histone deacetylase inhibitors butyrate and suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid, followed by culture in MEK/ERK and GSK3 inhibitors (2i) with FGF2. The second route is by direct derivation from a human embryo in 2i with FGF2. We show that human naïve cells meet mouse criteria for the naïve state by growth characteristics, antibody labeling profile, gene expression, X-inactivation profile, mitochondrial morphology, microRNA profile and development in the context of teratomas. hESCs can exist in a naïve state without the need for transgenes. Direct derivation is an elusive, but attainable, process, leading to cells at the earliest stage of in vitro pluripotency described for humans. Reverse toggling of primed cells to naïve is efficient and reproducible.
For nearly a century developmental biologists have recognized that cells from embryos can differ in their potential to differentiate into distinct cell types. Recently, it has been recognized that embryonic stem cells derived from both mice and humans display two stable yet epigenetically distinct states of pluripotency, naïve and primed. We now show that nicotinamide-N-methyl transferase (NNMT) and metabolic state regulate pluripotency in hESCs. Specifically, in naïve hESCs NNMT and its enzymatic product 1-methylnicotinamide (1-MNA) are highly upregulated, and NNMT is required for low SAM levels and H3K27me3 repressive state. NNMT consumes SAM in naïve cells, making it unavailable for histone methylation that represses Wnt and activates HIF pathway in primed hESCs. These data support the hypothesis that the metabolome regulates the epigenetic landscape of the earliest steps in human development.
Low oxygen levels have shown to promote self-renewal in many stem cells. In tumors, hypoxia is associated with aggressive disease course and poor clinical outcomes. Furthermore, many aggressive tumors have shown to display gene expression signatures characteristic of human embryonic stem cells (hESC). We now tested whether hypoxia might be responsible for the hESC signature observed in aggressive tumors. We show that hypoxia, through hypoxia inducible factor (HIF), can induce a hESC-like transcriptional program, including the iPSC inducers, OCT4, NANOG, SOX2, KLF4, cMYC and miRNA-302 in eleven cancer cell lines (from prostate, brain, kidney, cervix, lung, colon, liver and breast tumors). Further, non-degradable forms of HIFα, combined with the traditional iPSC inducers are highly efficient in generating A549 iPSC-like colonies that have high tumorigenic capacity. To test potential correlation between iPSC inducers and HIF expression in primary tumors, we analyzed primary prostate tumors and found a significant correlation between NANOG-, OCT4- and HIF1α-positive regions. Further, NANOG and OCT4 expression positively correlated with increased prostate tumor Gleason score. In primary glioma-derived CD133 negative cells neurospheres and hESC markers were induced in hypoxia but not in normoxia. Together, these findings suggest that HIF targets may act as key inducers of a dynamic state of stemness in pathological conditions.
Background Cardiomyocytes derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC-CMs) have great potential as a cell source for therapeutic applications such as regenerative medicine, disease modeling, drug screening, and toxicity testing. This potential is limited, however, by the immature state of the cardiomyocytes acquired using current protocols. Tri-iodo-L-thyronine (T3) is a growth hormone that is essential for optimal heart growth. In this study, we investigated the effect of T3 on hiPSC-CM maturation. Methods and Results A one-week treatment with T3 increased cardiomyocyte size, anisotropy, and sarcomere length. T3 treatment was associated with reduced cell cycle activity, manifest as reduced DNA synthesis and increased expression of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21. Contractile force analyses were performed on individual cardiomyocytes using arrays of microposts, revealing an almost two-fold higher force per-beat after T3 treatment and also an enhancement in contractile kinetics. This improvement in force generation was accompanied by an increase in rates of calcium release and reuptake, along with a significant increase in sarcoendoplasmic reticulum ATPase expression. Finally, although mitochondrial genomes were not numerically increased, extracellular flux analysis showed a significant increase in maximal mitochondrial respiratory capacity and respiratory reserve capability after T3 treatment. Conclusions Using a broad spectrum of morphological, molecular, and functional parameters, we conclude that T3 is a driver for hiPSC-CM maturation. T3 treatment may enhance the utility of hiPSC-CMs for therapy, disease modeling, or drug/toxicity screens.
BackgroundHuman tissues perform diverse metabolic functions. Mapping out these tissue-specific functions in genome-scale models will advance our understanding of the metabolic basis of various physiological and pathological processes. The global knowledgebase of metabolic functions categorized for the human genome (Human Recon 1) coupled with abundant high-throughput data now makes possible the reconstruction of tissue-specific metabolic models. However, the number of available tissue-specific models remains incomplete compared with the large diversity of human tissues.ResultsWe developed a method called metabolic Context-specificity Assessed by Deterministic Reaction Evaluation (mCADRE). mCADRE is able to infer a tissue-specific network based on gene expression data and metabolic network topology, along with evaluation of functional capabilities during model building. mCADRE produces models with similar or better functionality and achieves dramatic computational speed up over existing methods. Using our method, we reconstructed draft genome-scale metabolic models for 126 human tissue and cell types. Among these, there are models for 26 tumor tissues along with their normal counterparts, and 30 different brain tissues. We performed pathway-level analyses of this large collection of tissue-specific models and identified the eicosanoid metabolic pathway, especially reactions catalyzing the production of leukotrienes from arachidnoic acid, as potential drug targets that selectively affect tumor tissues.ConclusionsThis large collection of 126 genome-scale draft metabolic models provides a useful resource for studying the metabolic basis for a variety of human diseases across many tissues. The functionality of the resulting models and the fast computational speed of the mCADRE algorithm make it a useful tool to build and update tissue-specific metabolic models.
We used massively parallel pyrosequencing to discover and characterize microRNAs (miRNAs) expressed in human embryonic stem cells (hESC). Sequencing of small RNA cDNA libraries derived from undifferentiated hESC and from isogenic differentiating cultures yielded a total of 425,505 highquality sequence reads. A custom data analysis pipeline delineated expression profiles for 191 previously annotated miRNAs, 13 novel miRNAs, and 56 candidate miRNAs. Further characterization of a subset of the novel miRNAs in Dicer-knockdown hESC demonstrated Dicer-dependent expression, providing additional validation of our results. A set of 14 miRNAs (9 known and 5 novel) was noted to be expressed in undifferentiated hESC and then strongly downregulated with differentiation. Functional annotation analysis of predicted targets of these miRNAs and comparison with a null model using non-hESC-expressed miRNAs identified statistically enriched functional categories, including chromatin remodeling and lineage-specific differentiation annotations. Finally, integration of our data with genomewide chromatin immunoprecipitation data on OCT4, SOX2, and NANOG binding sites implicates these transcription factors in the regulation of nine of the novel/candidate miRNAs identified here. Comparison of our results with those of recent deep sequencing studies in mouse and human ESC shows that most of the novel/candidate miRNAs found here were not identified in the other studies. The data indicate that hESC express a larger complement of miRNAs than previously appreciated, and they provide a resource for additional studies of miRNA regulation of hESC physiology.
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