Formation of the complex vertebrate nervous system begins when pluripotent cells of the early embryo are directed to acquire a neural fate. Although cell intrinsic controls play an important role in this process, the molecular nature of this regulation is not well defined. Here we assessed the role for Geminin, a nuclear protein expressed in embryonic cells, during neural fate acquisition from mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells. Whereas Geminin knockdown does not affect the ability of ES cells to maintain or exit pluripotency, we found that it significantly impairs their ability to acquire a neural fate. Conversely, Geminin overexpression promotes neural gene expression, even in the presence of growth factor signaling that antagonizes neural transcriptional responses. These data demonstrate that Geminin's activity contributes to mammalian neural cell fate acquisition. We investigated the mechanistic basis of this phenomenon and found that Geminin maintains a hyperacetylated and open chromatin conformation at neural genes. Interestingly, recombinant Geminin protein also rapidly alters chromatin acetylation and accessibility even when Geminin is combined with nuclear extract and chromatin in vitro. Together, these data support a role for Geminin as a cell intrinsic regulator of neural fate acquisition that promotes expression of neural genes by regulating chromatin accessibility and histone acetylation.
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Feb 22 2011|