Mammalian embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are characterized by an ability to self-renew and give rise to each of the three germ layers. ESCs are a pluripotential source of numerous primitive progenitors and committed lineages and can make stoichiometric decisions leading to either asymmetric or symmetric cell division. Several genes have been identified as essential for maintenance of self-renewal, but few non-lineage specific genes have been identified as essential for differentiation. We selected the chromatin factor Ctbp2 from microarray data for its enriched expression in stem cells, in comparison to committed progenitors. RNA interference (RNAi) was used to knockdown gene expression in mouse ESCs and the potential for transduced cells to self-renew and differentiate was assessed in ESC and mesodermal assays. Here, we demonstrate an important role for Ctbp2 in stem cell maintenance and regulation of differentiation using an in vitro system. The knockdown of Ctbp2 increases the prevalence of ESCs in culture, delays differentiation induced by LIF withdrawal, and introduces developmental changes in mesodermal differentiation. A model is presented for the importance of Ctbp2 in maintaining a balance in decisions to self-renewal and differentiate.
Heather P. Tarleton, Ihor R. Lemischka, Delayed differentiation in embryonic stem cells and mesodermal progenitors in the absence of CtBP2, Mechanisms of Development, Volume 127, Issues 1–2, 2010, Pages 107-119, doi: 10.1016/j.mod.2009.10.002.