Pioneer factors in embryonic stem cells and differentiation

Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2010 Oct;20(5):519-26. doi: 10.1016/j.gde.2010.06.010. Epub 2010 Jul 16.


Most studies of tissue-specific and developmental stage-specific transcription have focused on the DNA motifs, transcription factors, or chromatin events required for the active transcription of a gene in cells in which the gene is expressed, or for its active or heritable silencing in nonexpressing cells. However, accumulating evidence suggests that, in multicellular eukaryotes, enhancers or promoters for tissue-specific genes interact with pioneer transcription factors in embryonic stem cells and at other early stages of development, long before the genes are transcribed. These early interactions, which can lead to the presence of unmethylated CpG dinucleotides, histone modification signatures, and/or chromatin remodeling, may carry out different functions at different classes of genes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Chromatin
  • Chromatin Assembly and Disassembly*
  • DNA Methylation
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Gene Silencing
  • Histones / genetics
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Transcription Factors / genetics


  • Chromatin
  • Histones
  • Transcription Factors