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Keywords:

  • Induced pluripotent stem cells;
  • Nuclear reprogramming;
  • Pluripotency;
  • Nanog

Abstract

Somatic cells can be reprogrammed to induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells by ectopic expression of the four factors Oct4, Klf4, Sox2, and Myc. Here, we investigated the role of Gata4 in the reprogramming process and present evidence for a negative role of this family of transcription factors in the induction of pluripotency. Coexpression of Gata4 with Oct4, Klf4, and Sox2 with or without Myc in mouse embryonic fibroblasts greatly impaired reprogramming and endogenous Nanog expression. The lack of Nanog upregulation was associated with a blockade in the transition from the initiation phase of reprogramming to the full pluripotent state characteristic of iPS cells. Addition of Nanog to the reprogramming cocktail blocked the deleterious effects observed with Gata4 expression. Downregulation of endogenous Gata4 by short hairpin RNAs during reprogramming both accelerated and increased the efficiency of the process and augmented the mRNA levels of endogenous Nanog. Using comparative genomics, we identified a consensus binding site for Gata factors in an evolutionary conserved region located 9 kb upstream of the Nanog gene. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation, gel retardation, and luciferase assays, we found that Gata4 bound to this region and inhibited Nanog transcription in mouse embryonic stem cells. Overall, our results describe for first time the negative effect of Gata4 in the reprogramming of somatic cells and highlight the role of Gata factors in the transcriptional networks that control cell lineage choices in the early embryo. STEM Cells2013;31:71–82