Sall4 modulates embryonic stem cell pluripotency and early embryonic development by the transcriptional regulation of Pou5f1

Nat Cell Biol. 2006 Oct;8(10):1114-23. doi: 10.1038/ncb1481. Epub 2006 Sep 17.


Embryonic stem (ES) cells are pluripotent cells that can self-renew or differentiate into many cell types. A unique network of transcription factors and signalling molecules are essential for maintaining this capability. Here, we report that a spalt family member, Sall4, is required for the pluripotency of ES cells. Similarly to Oct4, a reduction in Sall4 levels in mouse ES cells results in respecification, under the appropriate culture conditions, of ES cells to the trophoblast lineage. Sall4 regulates transcription of Pou5f1 which encodes Oct4. Sall4 binds to the highly conserved regulatory region of the Pou5f1 distal enhancer and activates Pou5f1 expression in vivo and in vitro. Microinjection of Sall4 small interfering (si) RNA into mouse zygotes resulted in reduction of Sall4 and Oct4 mRNAs in preimplantation embryos and significant expansion of Cdx2 expression into the inner cell mass. These results demonstrate that Sall4 is a transcriptional activator of Pou5f1 and has a critical role in the maintenance of ES cell pluripotency by modulating Oct4 expression. The data also indicates that Sall4 is important for early embryonic cell-fate decisions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Chromatin Immunoprecipitation
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Electrophoretic Mobility Shift Assay
  • Embryo, Mammalian / cytology*
  • Embryonic Development
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Octamer Transcription Factor-3 / genetics*
  • Octamer Transcription Factor-3 / metabolism
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Pregnancy
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / physiology*
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Octamer Transcription Factor-3
  • POU5F1 protein, human
  • Pou5f1 protein, mouse
  • Sall4 protein, mouse
  • Transcription Factors