This article is part of the Research Topic Genetic and Epigenetic Control of Stem Cell Fate

Mini Review ARTICLE

Front. Genet., 05 November 2012 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fgene.2012.00238

Epigenetic regulation of human embryonic stem cells

  • School/Department of Medicine, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA

Recently, there has been tremendous progress in characterizing the transcriptional network regulating human embryonic stem cells (hESCs; MacArthur et al., 2009; Loh et al., 2011), including those signaling events mediated by Oct4, Nanog, and Sox2. There is growing interest in the epigenetic machinery involved in hESC self-renewal and differentiation. In general, epigenetic regulation includes chromatin reorganization, DNA modification, and histone modification, which are not directly related to alterations in DNA sequences. Various protein complexes, including Polycomb, trithorax, nucleosome remodeling deacetylase, SWI/SNF, and Oct4, have been shown to play critical roles in epigenetic control of hESC physiology. Hence, we will formally review recent advances in unraveling the multifaceted role of epigenetic regulation in hESC self-renewal and induced differentiation, particularly with respect to chromatin remodeling and DNA methylation events. Elucidating the molecular mechanisms underlying the maintenance/differentiation of hESCs and reprogramming of somatic cells will greatly strengthen our capacity to generate various types of cells to treat human diseases.

Keywords: embryonic stem cell, epigenetic regulation, DNA methylation, chromatin remodeling, DNA repeat

Citation: Hu Q and Rosenfeld MG (2012) Epigenetic regulation of human embryonic stem cells. Front. Gene. 3:238. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2012.00238

Received: 05 June 2012; Accepted: 17 October 2012;
Published online: 05 November 2012.

Edited by:

Halyna R. Shcherbata, Max Planck Society, Germany

Reviewed by:

Ian C. Weaver, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Canada
Halyna R. Shcherbata, Max Planck Society, Germany

Copyright: © 2012 Hu and Rosenfeld. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

*Correspondence: Qidong Hu and Michael G. Rosenfeld, School/Department of Medicine, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA. e-mail: qihu@ucsd.edu; mrosenfeld@ucsd.edu