Transcriptional regulatory networks in embryonic stem cells

Cold Spring Harb Symp Quant Biol. 2008;73:203-9. doi: 10.1101/sqb.2008.73.026. Epub 2008 Nov 6.


Embryonic stem (ES) cells are characterized by their ability to self-renew and remain pluripotent. Transcription factors have critical roles in the maintenance of ES cells through specifying an ES-cell-specific gene expression program. Deciphering the transcriptional regulatory network that describes the specific interactions of these transcription factors with the genomic template is crucial for understanding the design and key components of this network. Recent advances in genomic technologies have facilitated genome-wide disclosure of the repertoire of transcription-factor-binding sites. Transcription factor colocalization hot spots targeted by multiple transcription factors have been identified. These are sites that integrate the external signaling pathways to the transcriptional regulatory circuitry governed by Oct4, Sox2, and Nanog. In addition, these sites may serve as focal points for the assembly of nucleoprotein complexes known as enhanceosomes. Studying the properties of ES-cell-specific enhanceosomes in different pluripotent cells will shed light on the composition and regulation of their activity. Knowledge of the transcriptional regulatory networks in different pluripotent cells will also help to distinguish the core and peripheral parts of the networks. Collectively, these studies will facilitate the understanding of molecular mechanisms behind transcription-factor-mediated regulation of pluripotent stem cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • Genomics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / physiology
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological
  • Nanog Homeobox Protein
  • Octamer Transcription Factor-3 / genetics
  • Octamer Transcription Factor-3 / physiology
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / physiology
  • SOXB1 Transcription Factors / genetics
  • SOXB1 Transcription Factors / physiology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / physiology
  • Transcription, Genetic*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Nanog Homeobox Protein
  • Nanog protein, mouse
  • Octamer Transcription Factor-3
  • Pou5f1 protein, mouse
  • SOXB1 Transcription Factors
  • Sall4 protein, mouse
  • Sox2 protein, mouse
  • Transcription Factors