PLoS genetics

Culture-induced recurrent epigenetic aberrations in human pluripotent stem cells.

PMID 28837588


Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) are an important player in disease modeling and regenerative medicine. Nonetheless, multiple studies uncovered their inherent genetic instability upon prolonged culturing, where specific chromosomal aberrations provide cells with a growth advantage. These positively selected modifications have dramatic effects on multiple cellular characteristics. Epigenetic aberrations also possess the potential of changing gene expression and altering cellular functions. In the current study we assessed the landscape of DNA methylation aberrations during prolonged culturing of hPSCs, and defined a set of genes which are recurrently hypermethylated and silenced. We further focused on one of these genes, testis-specific Y-encoded like protein 5 (TSPYL5), and demonstrated that when silenced, differentiation-related genes and tumor-suppressor genes are downregulated, while pluripotency- and growth promoting genes are upregulated. This process is similar to the hypermethylation-mediated inactivation of certain genes during tumor development. Our analysis highlights the existence and importance of recurrent epigenetic aberrations in hPSCs during prolonged culturing.