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Nat Genet. 2010 Jul;42(7):631-4. doi: 10.1038/ng.600. Epub 2010 Jun 6.

Transposable elements have rewired the core regulatory network of human embryonic stem cells.

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  • 1Computational and Mathematical Biology, Genome Institute of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore.


Detection of new genomic control elements is critical in understanding transcriptional regulatory networks in their entirety. We studied the genome-wide binding locations of three key regulatory proteins (POU5F1, also known as OCT4; NANOG; and CTCF) in human and mouse embryonic stem cells. In contrast to CTCF, we found that the binding profiles of OCT4 and NANOG are markedly different, with only approximately 5% of the regions being homologously occupied. We show that transposable elements contributed up to 25% of the bound sites in humans and mice and have wired new genes into the core regulatory network of embryonic stem cells. These data indicate that species-specific transposable elements have substantially altered the transcriptional circuitry of pluripotent stem cells.

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