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Stem Cells. 2009 May;27(5):1088-97. doi: 10.1002/stem.43.

Epigenetic hierarchy governing Nestin expression.

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Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine, Münster, Germany.


Nestin is an intermediate filament protein expressed specifically in neural stem cells and progenitor cells of the central nervous system. DNA demethylation and histone modifications are two types of epigenetic modifications working in a coordinate or synergistic manner to regulate the expression of various genes. This study investigated and elucidated the epigenetic regulation of Nestin gene expression during embryonic differentiation along the neural cell lineage. Nestin exhibits differential DNA methylation and histone acetylation patterns in Nestin-expressing and nonexpressing cells. In P19 embryonic carcinoma cells, activation of Nestin expression is mediated by both trichostatin A and 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine treatment, concomitant with histone acetylation, but not with DNA demethylation. Nestin transcription is also mediated by treatment with retinoic acid, again in the absence of DNA demethylation. Thus, histone acetylation is sufficient to mediate the activation of Nestin transcription. This study proposed that the regulation of Nestin gene expression can be used as a model to study the epigenetic regulation of gene expression mediated by histone acetylation, but not by DNA demethylation.

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