PloS one

Genome-Wide Definition of Promoter and Enhancer Usage during Neural Induction of Human Embryonic Stem Cells.

PMID 25978676


Genome-wide mapping of transcriptional regulatory elements is an essential tool for understanding the molecular events orchestrating self-renewal, commitment and differentiation of stem cells. We combined high-throughput identification of transcription start sites with genome-wide profiling of histones modifications to map active promoters and enhancers in embryonic stem cells (ESCs) induced to neuroepithelial-like stem cells (NESCs). Our analysis showed that most promoters are active in both cell types while approximately half of the enhancers are cell-specific and account for most of the epigenetic changes occurring during neural induction, and most likely for the modulation of the promoters to generate cell-specific gene expression programs. Interestingly, the majority of the promoters activated or up-regulated during neural induction have a "bivalent" histone modification signature in ESCs, suggesting that developmentally-regulated promoters are already poised for transcription in ESCs, which are apparently pre-committed to neuroectodermal differentiation. Overall, our study provides a collection of differentially used enhancers, promoters, transcription starts sites, protein-coding and non-coding RNAs in human ESCs and ESC-derived NESCs, and a broad, genome-wide description of promoter and enhancer usage and of gene expression programs characterizing the transition from a pluripotent to a neural-restricted cell fate.