Zscan4 restores the developmental potency of embryonic stem cells

Nat Commun. 2013;4:1966. doi: 10.1038/ncomms2966.


The developmental potency of mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells, which is the ability to contribute to a whole embryo, is known to deteriorate during long-term cell culture. Previously, we have shown that ES cells oscillate between Zscan4(-) and Zscan4(+) states, and the transient activation of Zscan4 is required for the maintenance of telomeres and genome stability of ES cells. Here we show that increasing the frequency of Zscan4 activation in mouse ES cells restores and maintains their developmental potency in long-term cell culture. Injection of a single ES cell with such increased potency into a tetraploid blastocyst gives rise to an entire embryo with a higher success rate. These results not only provide a means to rejuvenate ES cells by manipulating Zscan4 expression, but also indicate the active roles of Zscan4 in the long-term maintenance of ES cell potency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Polyploidy
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Telomere / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Transcription Factors