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J Biol Chem. 2010 Jun 18;285(25):19483-90. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.131995. Epub 2010 Apr 9.

Activation of the imprinted Dlk1-Dio3 region correlates with pluripotency levels of mouse stem cells.

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  • 1State Key Laboratory of Reproductive Biology, Institute of Zoology, ChineseAcademy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China.


Low reprogramming efficiency and reduced pluripotency have been the two major obstacles in induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell research. An effective and quick method to assess the pluripotency levels of iPS cells at early stages would significantly increase the success rate of iPS cell generation and promote its applications. We have identified a conserved imprinted region of the mouse genome, the Dlk1-Dio3 region, which was activated in fully pluripotent mouse stem cells but repressed in partially pluripotent cells. The degree of activation of this region was positively correlated with the pluripotency levels of stem cells. A mammalian conserved cluster of microRNAs encoded by this region exhibited significant expression differences between full and partial pluripotent stem cells. Several microRNAs from this cluster potentially target components of the polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) and may form a feedback regulatory loop resulting in the expression of all genes and non-coding RNAs encoded by this region in full pluripotent stem cells. No other genomic regions were found to exhibit such clear expression changes between cell lines with different pluripotency levels; therefore, the Dlk1-Dio3 region may serve as a marker to identify fully pluripotent iPS or embryonic stem cells from partial pluripotent cells. These findings also provide a step forward toward understanding the operating mechanisms during reprogramming to produce iPS cells and can potentially promote the application of iPS cells in regenerative medicine and cancer therapy.

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