Self-renewal and pluripotency are two fundamental characteristics of embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and are controlled by diverse regulatory factors, including pluripotent factors, epigenetic regulators and microRNAs (miRNAs). Although histone methyltransferases are key epigenetic regulators, whether and how a histone methyltransferase forms a network with miRNAs and the core pluripotent factor system to regulate ESC stemness is little known. Here, we show that the protein arginine methyltransferase 7 (PRMT7) is a pluripotent factor essential for the stemness of mouse ESCs. PRMT7 repressed the miR-24-2 gene encoding miR-24-3p and miR-24-2-5p by upregulating the levels of symmetrically dimethylated H4R3. Notably, miR-24-3p targeted the 3' untranslated regions (UTRs) of the major pluripotent factors Oct4, Nanog, Klf4 and c-Myc, whereas miR-24-2-5p silenced Klf4 and c-Myc expression. miR-24-3p and miR-24-2-5p also targeted the 3'UTR of their repressor gene Prmt7 miR-24-3p and miR-24-2-5p induced mouse ESC differentiation, and their anti-sense inhibitors substantially reversed spontaneous differentiation of PRMT7-depleted mouse ESCs. Oct4, Nanog, Klf4 and c-Myc positively regulated Prmt7 expression. These findings define miR-24-3p and miR-24-2-5p as new anti-pluripotent miRNAs and also reveal a novel epigenetic stemness-regulatory mechanism in which a double-negative feedback loop consisting of PRMT7 and miR-24-3p/miR24-2-5p interplays with Oct4, Nanog, Klf4 and c-Myc to control ESC stemness.
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