As the quintessential reprogramming model, OCT3/4, SOX2, KLF4, and c-MYC re-wire somatic cells to achieve induced pluripotency. Yet, subtle differences in methodology confound comparative studies of reprogramming mechanisms. Employing transposons, we systematically assessed cellular and molecular hallmarks of mouse somatic cell reprogramming by various polycistronic cassettes. Reprogramming responses varied in the extent of initiation and stabilization of transgene-independent pluripotency. Notably, the cassettes employed one of two KLF4 variants, differing only by nine N-terminal amino acids, which generated dissimilar protein stoichiometry. Extending the shorter variant by nine N-terminal amino acids or augmenting stoichiometry by KLF4 supplementation rescued both protein levels and phenotypic disparities, implicating a threshold in determining reprogramming outcomes. Strikingly, global gene expression patterns elicited by published polycistronic cassettes diverged according to each KLF4 variant. Our data expose a Klf4 reference cDNA variation that alters polycistronic factor stoichiometry, predicts reprogramming hallmarks, and guides comparison of compatible public data sets.
Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.