Analyses of gene expression in single mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) cultured in serum and LIF revealed the presence of two distinct cell subpopulations with individual gene expression signatures. Comparisons with published data revealed that cells in the first subpopulation are phenotypically similar to cells isolated from the inner cell mass (ICM). In contrast, cells in the second subpopulation appear to be more mature. Pluripotency Gene Regulatory Network (PGRN) reconstruction based on single-cell data and published data suggested antagonistic roles for Oct4 and Nanog in the maintenance of pluripotency states. Integrated analyses of published genomic binding (ChIP) data strongly supported this observation. Certain target genes alternatively regulated by OCT4 and NANOG, such as Sall4 and Zscan10, feed back into the top hierarchical regulator Oct4. Analyses of such incoherent feedforward loops with feedback (iFFL-FB) suggest a dynamic model for the maintenance of mESC pluripotency and self-renewal.
Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.