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The SMAD2/3 corepressor SNON maintains pluripotency through selective repression of mesendodermal genes in human ES cells.

Tsuneyoshi N., Tan E.K., Sadasivam A., Poobalan Y., Sumi T., Nakatsuji N., Suemori H., Dunn N.R.

Activin/Nodal signaling via SMAD2/3 maintains human embryonic stem cell (hESC) pluripotency by direct transcriptional regulation of NANOG or, alternatively, induces mesoderm and definitive endoderm (DE) formation. In search of an explanation for these contrasting effects, we focused on SNON (SKIL), a potent SMAD2/3 corepressor that is expressed in hESCs but rapidly down-regulated upon differentiation. We show that SNON predominantly associates with SMAD2 at the promoters of primitive streak (PS) and early DE marker genes. Knockdown of SNON results in premature activation of PS and DE genes and loss of hESC morphology. In contrast, enforced SNON expression inhibits DE formation and diverts hESCs toward an extraembryonic fate. Thus, our findings provide novel mechanistic insight into how a single signaling pathway both regulates pluripotency and directs lineage commitment.

Genes Dev. 26:2471-2476(2012) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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