Research ArticleCELL BIOLOGY

Bach1 regulates self-renewal and impedes mesendodermal differentiation of human embryonic stem cells

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Science Advances  13 Mar 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 3, eaau7887
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau7887


The transcription factor BTB and CNC homology 1 (Bach1) is expressed in the embryos of mice, but whether Bach1 regulates the self-renewal and early differentiation of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) is unknown. We report that the deubiquitinase ubiquitin-specific processing protease 7 (Usp7) is a direct target of Bach1, that Bach1 interacts with Nanog, Sox2, and Oct4, and that Bach1 facilitates their deubiquitination and stabilization via the recruitment of Usp7, thereby maintaining stem cell identity and self-renewal. Bach1 also interacts with polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) and represses mesendodermal gene expression by recruiting PRC2 to the genes’ promoters. The loss of Bach1 in hESCs promotes differentiation toward the mesendodermal germ layers by reducing the occupancy of EZH2 and H3K27me3 in mesendodermal gene promoters and by activating the Wnt/β-catenin and Nodal/Smad2/3 signaling pathways. Our study shows that Bach1 is a key determinant of pluripotency, self-renewal, and lineage specification in hESCs.

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