Oct4 differentially regulates chromatin opening and enhancer transcription in pluripotent stem cells


Xiong L, Tolen EA, Choi J, Velychko S, Caizzi L, Velychko T, Adachi K, MacCarthy CM, Lidschreiber M, Cramer P, Schoeler HR




eLife 11:e71533.


The transcription factor Oct4 is essential for the maintenance and induction of stem cell pluripotency, but its functional roles are not fully understood. Here, we investigate the functions of Oct4 by depleting and subsequently recovering it in mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and conducting a time-resolved multiomics analysis. Oct4 depletion leads to an immediate loss of its binding to enhancers, accompanied by a decrease in mRNA synthesis from its target genes that are part of the transcriptional network that maintains pluripotency. Gradual decrease of Oct4 binding to enhancers does not immediately change the chromatin accessibility but reduces transcription of enhancers. Conversely, partial recovery of Oct4 expression results in a rapid increase in chromatin accessibility, whereas enhancer transcription does not fully recover. These results indicate different concentration-dependent activities of Oct4. Whereas normal ESC levels of Oct4 are required for transcription of pluripotency enhancers, low levels of Oct4 are sufficient to retain chromatin accessibility, likely together with other factors such as Sox2.


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