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Mol Syst Biol. 2018 Sep 3;14(9):e8140. doi: 10.15252/msb.20178140.

Inheritance of OCT4 predetermines fate choice in human embryonic stem cells.

Author information

1
Department of Genetics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.
2
Department of Biostatistics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.
3
Curriculum for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.
4
UNC Neuroscience Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.
5
Department of Genetics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA jeremy_purvis@med.unc.edu.
6
Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.

Abstract

It is well known that clonal cells can make different fate decisions, but it is unclear whether these decisions are determined during, or before, a cell's own lifetime. Here, we engineered an endogenous fluorescent reporter for the pluripotency factor OCT4 to study the timing of differentiation decisions in human embryonic stem cells. By tracking single-cell OCT4 levels over multiple cell cycle generations, we found that the decision to differentiate is largely determined before the differentiation stimulus is presented and can be predicted by a cell's preexisting OCT4 signaling patterns. We further quantified how maternal OCT4 levels were transmitted to, and distributed between, daughter cells. As mother cells underwent division, newly established OCT4 levels in daughter cells rapidly became more predictive of final OCT4 expression status. These results imply that the choice between developmental cell fates can be largely predetermined at the time of cell birth through inheritance of a pluripotency factor.

KEYWORDS:

OCT4; cell fate; human embryonic stem cells; pluripotency; single‐cell dynamics

PMID:
30177503
PMCID:
PMC6120590

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