Background and objectives: DNA methyltransferases (Dnmts) play an important role in regulating DNA methylation during early developmental processes and cellular differentiation. In this study, we aimed to investigate the role of Dnmts in neural differentiation of embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and in maintenance of the resulting neural stem cells (NSCs).
Methods and results: We used three types of Dnmt knockout (KO) ESCs, including Dnmt1 KO, Dnmt3a/3b double KO (Dnmt3 DKO), and Dnmt1/3a/3b triple KO (Dnmt TKO), to investigate the role of Dnmts in neural differentiation of ESCs. All three types of Dnmt KO ESCs could form neural rosette and differentiate into NSCs in vitro. Interestingly, however, after passage three, Dnmt KO ESC-derived NSCs could not maintain their self-renewal and differentiated into neurons and glial cells.
Conclusions: Taken together, the data suggested that, although deficiency of Dnmts had no effect on the differentiation of ESCs into NSCs, the latter had defective maintenance, thereby indicating that Dnmts are crucial for self-renewal of NSCs.
Keywords: DNA methyltransferases; Neural stem cells; Neuronal and glial differentiation.