Core pluripotency factors, such as Oct4, Sox2, and Nanog, play important roles in maintaining embryonic stem cell (ESC) identity by autoregulatory feedforward loops.
Nevertheless, the mechanism that provides precise control of the levels of the ESC core factors without indefinite amplification has remained elusive.
Authors report that the direct repression of core pluripotency factors by Tgif1, a previously known terminal repressor of TGFβ/activin/nodal signaling. Overexpression of Tgif1 reduces the levels of ESC core factors, whereas its depletion leads to the induction of the pluripotency factors.
They confirm the existence of physical associations between Tgif1 and Oct4, Nanog, and HDAC1/2 and further show the level of Tgif1 is not significantly altered by treatment with an activator/inhibitor of the TGFβ/activin/nodal signaling.
Collectively, these findings establish Tgif1 as an integral member of the core regulatory circuitry of mouse ESCs that counterbalances the levels of the core pluripotency factors in a TGFβ/activin/nodal-independent manner.