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ItemUnique properties of a subset of human pluripotent stem cells with high capacity for self-renewalLau, KX ; Mason, EA ; Kie, J ; De Souza, DP ; Kloehn, J ; Tull, D ; McConville, MJ ; Keniry, A ; Beck, T ; Blewitt, ME ; Ritchie, ME ; Naik, SH ; Zalcenstein, D ; Korn, O ; Su, S ; Romero, IG ; Spruce, C ; Baker, CL ; McGarr, TC ; Wells, CA ; Pera, MF (Nature Research, 2020-05-15)Archetypal human pluripotent stem cells (hPSC) are widely considered to be equivalent in developmental status to mouse epiblast stem cells, which correspond to pluripotent cells at a late post-implantation stage of embryogenesis. Heterogeneity within hPSC cultures complicates this interspecies comparison. Here we show that a subpopulation of archetypal hPSC enriched for high self-renewal capacity (ESR) has distinct properties relative to the bulk of the population, including a cell cycle with a very low G1 fraction and a metabolomic profile that reflects a combination of oxidative phosphorylation and glycolysis. ESR cells are pluripotent and capable of differentiation into primordial germ cell-like cells. Global DNA methylation levels in the ESR subpopulation are lower than those in mouse epiblast stem cells. Chromatin accessibility analysis revealed a unique set of open chromatin sites in ESR cells. RNA-seq at the subpopulation and single cell levels shows that, unlike mouse epiblast stem cells, the ESR subset of hPSC displays no lineage priming, and that it can be clearly distinguished from gastrulating and extraembryonic cell populations in the primate embryo. ESR hPSC correspond to an earlier stage of post-implantation development than mouse epiblast stem cells.
ItemSingle-Cell Gene Expression Profiles Define Self-Renewing, Pluripotent, and Lineage Primed States of Human Pluripotent Stem CellsHough, SR ; Thornton, M ; Mason, E ; Mar, JC ; Wells, CA ; Pera, MF (CELL PRESS, 2014-06-03)Pluripotent stem cells display significant heterogeneity in gene expression, but whether this diversity is an inherent feature of the pluripotent state remains unknown. Single-cell gene expression analysis in cell subsets defined by surface antigen expression revealed that human embryonic stem cell cultures exist as a continuum of cell states, even under defined conditions that drive self-renewal. The majority of the population expressed canonical pluripotency transcription factors and could differentiate into derivatives of all three germ layers. A minority subpopulation of cells displayed high self-renewal capacity, consistently high transcripts for all pluripotency-related genes studied, and no lineage priming. This subpopulation was characterized by its expression of a particular set of intercellular signaling molecules whose genes shared common regulatory features. Our data support a model of an inherently metastable self-renewing population that gives rise to a continuum of intermediate pluripotent states, which ultimately become primed for lineage specification.
ItemGene Expression Variability as a Unifying Element of the Pluripotency NetworkMason, EA ; Mar, JC ; Laslett, AL ; Pera, MF ; Quackenbush, J ; Wolvetang, E ; Wells, CA (CELL PRESS, 2014-08-12)Heterogeneity is a hallmark of stem cell populations, in part due to the molecular differences between cells undergoing self-renewal and those poised to differentiate. We examined phenotypic and molecular heterogeneity in pluripotent stem cell populations, using public gene expression data sets. A high degree of concordance was observed between global gene expression variability and the reported heterogeneity of different human pluripotent lines. Network analysis demonstrated that low-variability genes were the most highly connected, suggesting that these are the most stable elements of the gene regulatory network and are under the highest regulatory constraints. Known drivers of pluripotency were among these, with lowest expression variability of POU5F1 in cells with the highest capacity for self-renewal. Variability of gene expression provides a reliable measure of phenotypic and molecular heterogeneity and predicts those genes with the highest degree of regulatory constraint within the pluripotency network.