Histone content increases in differentiating embryonic stem cells

Theodoros Karnavas, Luisa Pintonello, Alessandra Agresti, Marco E. Bianchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are pluripotent mammalian cells derived from the inner cell mass (ICM) of mouse blastocysts, which give rise to all three embryonic germ layers both in vivo and in vitro. Mouse ESCs have a distinct epigenetic landscape and a more decondensed chromatin compared to differentiated cells. Numerous studies have shown that distinct histone modifications in ESCs serve as hallmarks of pluripotency. However, so far it is still unknown whether the total histone content (as opposed to histone modifications) remains the same in cells of different developmental stage and differentiation capacity. In this work we show that total histone content differs between pluripotent and differentiated cells. In vitro spontaneous differentiation from ESCs to Embryoid Bodies (EBs) and directed differentiation towards neuronal and endodermal cells entails an increase in histone content. Primary MEFs also contain more histones than ESCs. We suggest that the difference in histone content is an additional hallmark of pluripotency, in addition to and besides histone modifications.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberArticle 330
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Volume5 AUG
Publication statusPublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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