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Dev Biol. 2006 Oct 15;298(2):354-67. Epub 2006 Apr 21.

Nuclear and chromatin reorganization in the MHC-Oct3/4 locus at developmental phases of embryonic stem cell differentiation.

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  • 1Department of Regeneration Medicine, Institute of Molecular Embryology and Genetics, The 21st Century COE, Kumamoto University, 2-2-1 Honjo, Kumamoto 860-0811, Japan.


Epigenetic gene control is involved in mechanisms of development. Little is known about the cooperation of nuclear and chromatin events in programmed differentiation from mouse embryonic stem cells (ESC). To address this, Oct3/4-positive ESC and differentiated progenies, Sox1-positive neural precursor cells (NPC) and post-mitotic neurons (PMN), were isolated using a stage-selected culture system. We first investigated global nuclear organization at the each stage. Chromocenter preexists in ESC, disperses in NPC and becomes integrated into large heterochromatic foci in PMN, while the formation of PML bodies markedly decreases in neural differentiation. We next focused on the gene-dense MHC-Oct3/4 region. Oct3/4 gene is expressed preferentially adjacent to PML bodies in ESC and are repressed in the absence of chromocenter association in NPC and PMN. Histone deacetylation in NPC, demethylation of lysine 4 of histone H3 (H3K4), tri-methylation of H3K27, and CpG methylation in PMN are targeted for the Oct3/4 promoter within the region. Interestingly, di-methyl H3K4 mark is present in Oct3/4 promoter in NPC as well as ESC. These findings provide insights into the molecular basis of global nuclear reorganization and euchromatic gene silencing in differentiation through the spatiotemporal order of epigenetic controls.

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