Multiple pluripotent states have been described in mouse and human stem cells. Here, we apply single-cell RNA-seq to a newly established BMP4 induced mouse primed to naïve transition (BiPNT) system and show that the reset is not a direct reversal of cell fate but goes through a primordial germ cell-like cells (PGCLCs) state. We first show that epiblast stem cells bifurcate into c-Kit+ naïve and c-Kit- trophoblast-like cells, among which, the naïve branch undergoes further transition through a PGCLCs intermediate capable of spermatogenesis in vivo. Mechanistically, we show that DOT1L inhibition permits the transition from primed pluripotency to PGCLCs in part by facilitating the loss of H3K79me2 from Gata3/6. In addition, Prdm1/Blimp1 is required for PGCLCs and naïve cells, while Gata2 inhibits PGC-like state by promoting trophoblast-like fate. Our work not only reveals an alternative route for primed to naïve transition, but also gains insight into germ cell development.
© 2022. The Author(s).