Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are pluripotent and have unlimited self-renewal capacity. Although pluripotency and differentiation have been examined extensively, the mechanisms responsible for self-renewal are poorly understood and are believed to involve an unusual cell cycle, epigenetic regulators and pluripotency-promoting transcription factors. Here we show that B-MYB, a cell cycle regulated phosphoprotein and transcription factor critical to the formation of inner cell mass, is central to the transcriptional and co-regulatory networks that sustain normal cell cycle progression and self-renewal properties of ESCs. Phenotypically, B-MYB is robustly expressed in ESCs and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), and it is present predominantly in a hypo-phosphorylated state. Knockdown of B-MYB results in functional cell cycle abnormalities that involve S, G2 and M phases, and reduced expression of critical cell cycle regulators like ccnb1 and plk1. By conducting gene expression profiling on control and B-MYB deficient cells, ChIP-chip experiments, and integrative computational analyses, we unraveled a highly complex B-MYB-mediated transcriptional network that guides ESC self-renewal. The network encompasses critical regulators of all cell cycle phases and epigenetic regulators, pluripotency transcription factors, and differentiation determinants. B-MYB along with E2F1 and c-MYC preferentially co-regulate cell cycle target genes. B-MYB also co-targets genes regulated by OCT4, SOX2 and NANOG that are significantly associated with stem cell differentiation, embryonic development, and epigenetic control. Moreover, loss of B-MYB leads to a breakdown of the transcriptional hierarchy present in ESCs. These results coupled with functional studies demonstrate that B-MYB not only controls and accelerates cell cycle progression in ESCs it contributes to fate decisions and maintenance of pluripotent stem cell identity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)