In pluripotent stem cells, there is increasing evidence for crosstalk between post-transcriptional and transcriptional networks, offering multifold steps at which pluripotency can be controlled. In addition to well-studied transcription factors, chromatin modifiers and miRNAs, RNA-binding proteins are emerging as fundamental players in pluripotency regulation. Here, we report a new role for the RNA-binding protein ESRP1 in the control of pluripotency. Knockdown of Esrp1 in mouse embryonic stem cells induces, other than the well-documented epithelial to mesenchymal-like state, also an increase in expression of the core transcription factors Oct4, Nanog and Sox2, thereby enhancing self-renewal of these cells. Esrp1-depleted embryonic stem cells displayed impaired early differentiation in vitro and formed larger teratomas in vivo when compared to control embryonic stem cells. We also show that ESRP1 binds to Oct4 and Sox2 mRNAs and decreases their polysomal loading. ESRP1 thus acts as a physiological regulator of the finely-tuned balance between self-renewal and commitment to a restricted developmental fate. Importantly, both mouse and human epithelial stem cells highly express ESRP1, pinpointing the importance of this RNA-binding protein in stem cell biology.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)