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Cell Stem Cell. 2010 May 7;6(5):457-67. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2010.03.014.

Multiple epigenetic modifiers induce aggressive viral extinction in extraembryonic endoderm stem cells.

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Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Western Ontario, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, London, Ontario N6A 4V2, Canada.


To prevent insertional mutagenesis arising from retroviral reactivation, cells of embryonic origin possess a unique capacity to silence retroviruses. Given the distinct modes of X chromosome inactivation between embryonic and extraembryonic lineages, we investigated paradigms of viral extinction. We show that trophectoderm stem cells do not silence retroviral transcription, whereas extraembryonic endoderm stem cells aggressively extinguish proviral transcription, even more rapidly than do embryonic stem cells. By using a short hairpin RNA library, we identified epigenetic modifiers of retroviral extinction in extraembryonic endoderm stem cells. Multiple chromatin remodeling and polycomb repressor complex proteins act to modulate integrated, as well as endogenous, retroviral element silencing, with a subset of factors displaying differential effects between stem cell types. Furthermore, our data suggest that small RNAs play a role in this process through interactions with the Argonaute family. Our results further the understanding of mechanisms regulating retroviral transcription in different stem cell lineages.

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