Single-molecule analysis reveals changes in the DNA replication program for the POU5F1 locus upon human embryonic stem cell differentiation

Sherri S. Schultz, Sabrina C. Desbordes, Zhuo Du, Settapong Kosiyatrakul, Inna Lipchina, Lorenz Studer, Carl L. Schildkraut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), due to their pluripotent nature, represent a particularly relevant model system to study the relationship between the replication program and differentiation state. Here, we define the basic properties of the replication program in hESCs and compare them to the programs of hESC-derived multipotent cells (neural rosette cells) and primary differentiated cells (microvascular endothelial cells [MECs]). We characterized three genomic loci: two pluripotency regulatory genes, POU5F1 (OCT4) and NANOG, and the IGH locus, a locus that is transcriptionally active specifically in B-lineage cells. We applied a high-resolution approach to capture images of individual replicated DNA molecules. We demonstrate that for the loci studied, several basic properties of replication, including the average speed of replication forks and the average density of initiation sites, were conserved among the cells analyzed. We also demonstrate, for the first time, the presence of initiation zones in hESCs. However, significant differences were evident in other aspects of replication for the DNA segment containing the POU5F1 gene. Specifically, the locations of centers of initiation zones and the direction of replication fork progression through the POU5F1 gene were conserved in two independent hESC lines but were different in hESC-derived multipotent cells and MECs. Thus, our data identify features of the replication program characteristic of hESCs and define specific changes in replication during hESC differentiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4521-4534
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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