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Cell Biol Int. 2015 May;39(5):600-10. doi: 10.1002/cbin.10431. Epub 2015 Jan 26.

Lineage specific expression of Polycomb Group Proteins in human embryonic stem cells in vitro.

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Stem Cell Biology Department, National Institute for Research in Reproductive Health (NIRRH), Jehangir Merwanji Street, Parel, Mumbai, 400012, India.


Human embryonic (hES) stem cells are an excellent model to study lineage specification and differentiation into various cell types. Differentiation necessitates repression of specific genes not required for a particular lineage. Polycomb Group (PcG) proteins are key histone modifiers, whose primary function is gene repression. PcG proteins form complexes called Polycomb Repressive Complexes (PRCs), which catalyze histone modifications such as H2AK119ub1, H3K27me3, and H3K9me3. PcG proteins play a crucial role during differentiation of stem cells. The expression of PcG transcripts during differentiation of hES cells into endoderm, mesoderm, and ectoderm lineage is yet to be shown. In-house derived hES cell line KIND1 was differentiated into endoderm, mesoderm, and ectoderm lineages; followed by characterization using RT-PCR for HNF4A, CDX2, MEF2C, TBX5, SOX1, and MAP2. qRT-PCR and western blotting was performed to compare expression of PcG transcripts and proteins across all the three lineages. We observed that cells differentiated into endoderm showed upregulation of RING1B, BMI1, EZH2, and EED transcripts. Mesoderm differentiation was characterized by significant downregulation of all PcG transcripts during later stages. BMI1 and RING1B were upregulated while EZH2, SUZ12, and EED remained low during ectoderm differentiation. Western blotting also showed distinct expression of BMI1 and EZH2 during differentiation into three germ layers. Our study shows that hES cells differentiating into endoderm, mesoderm, and ectoderm lineages show distinct PcG expression profile at transcript and protein level.


PcG proteins; differentiation; ectoderm; endoderm; hES cells; mesoderm

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