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Tissue of origin, but not XCI state, influences germ cell differentiation from human pluripotent stem cells
Journal Contribution - Journal Article
Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) are not only a promising tool to investigate differentiation to many cell types, including the germline, but are also a potential source of cells to use for regenerative medicine purposes in the future. However, current in vitro models to generate human primordial germ cell-like cells (hPGCLCs) have revealed high variability regarding differentiation efficiency depending on the hPSC lines used. Here, we investigated whether differences in X chromosome inactivation (XCI) in female hPSCs could contribute to the variability of hPGCLC differentiation efficiency during embryoid body (EB) formation. For this, we first characterized the XCI state in different hPSC lines by investigating the expression of XIST and H3K27me3, followed by differentiation and quantification of hPGCLCs. We observed that the XCI state did not influence the efficiency to differentiate to hPGCLCs; rather, hPSCs derived from cells isolated from urine showed an increased trend towards hPGCLCs differentiation compared to skin-derived hPSCs. In addition, we also characterized the XCI state in the generated hPGCLCs. Interestingly, we observed that independent of the XCI state of the hPSCs used, both hPGCLCs and soma cells in the EBs acquired XIST expression, indicative of an inactive X chromosome. In fact, culture conditions for EB formation seemed to promote XIST expression. Together, our results contribute to understanding how epigenetic properties of hPSCs influence differentiation and to optimize differentiation methods to obtain higher numbers of hPGCLCs, the first step to achieve human in vitro gametogenesis.