Systematic identification of culture conditions for induction and maintenance of naive human pluripotency

Cell Stem Cell. 2014 Oct 2;15(4):471-487. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2014.07.002. Epub 2014 Jul 24.


Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) of mice and humans have distinct molecular and biological characteristics, raising the question of whether an earlier, "naive" state of pluripotency may exist in humans. Here we took a systematic approach to identify small molecules that support self-renewal of naive human ESCs based on maintenance of endogenous OCT4 distal enhancer activity, a molecular signature of ground state pluripotency. Iterative chemical screening identified a combination of five kinase inhibitors that induces and maintains OCT4 distal enhancer activity when applied directly to conventional human ESCs. These inhibitors generate human pluripotent cells in which transcription factors associated with the ground state of pluripotency are highly upregulated and bivalent chromatin domains are depleted. Comparison with previously reported naive human ESCs indicates that our conditions capture a distinct pluripotent state in humans that closely resembles that of mouse ESCs. This study presents a framework for defining the culture requirements of naive human pluripotent cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods*
  • Cell Survival
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Enhancer Elements, Genetic / genetics
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Octamer Transcription Factor-3 / genetics
  • Octamer Transcription Factor-3 / metabolism
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Transgenes


  • Chromatin
  • Octamer Transcription Factor-3
  • POU5F1 protein, human
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins

Associated data

  • GENBANK/GSE59435