Histones, Bmi1 & OCT4: Investigating the Secrets of ESC Pluripotency

Mon, 05/14/2012 - 10:14

Epigenetic alterations have come to prominence in biomedical research. In particular, hypermethylation of CpG islands located in the promoter regions of tumor-suppressor genes is now firmly established as an important mechanism for gene inactivation in cancer. Polycomb group (PcG) proteins are epigenetic chromatin modifiers involved in gene silencing, cancer development and the maintenance of adult and embryonic stem cells. One of the most remarkable achievements in the field has also been the identification of the methyl-CpG-binding domain family of proteins, which provide mechanistic links between specific patterns of DNA methylation and histone modifications. Interest in non-allelic histone variants has been renewed, in part because of recent work on H3 (and other) histone variants. However, only in mammals do three non-centromeric H3 variants (H3.1, H3.2, and H3.3) exist (1).  Epigenetic changes underlie not only normal, but also pathological development. Bmi1 is recognized as a member of the PcG family of proteins (2). The PcG proteins function within distinct multisubunit complexes and epigenetically regulate gene expression by altering chromatin states at specific promoters. In concordance with its role in stem cells, Bmi-1 has been proposed to maintain cancer stem cell populations (3).

Immunocytochemistry/Immunofluorescence: Bmi1 Antibody Immunocytochemistry/Immunofluorescence: Bmi1 Antibody

Pluripotent embryonic stem cells (ESCs) have the potential to produce every type of cell in the human body. Pluripotency is a unique epigenetic state, in that ESCs can self-renew, while retaining the potential for multilineage differentiation. OCT4 is highly expressed in pluripotent cells and becomes silenced upon differentiation. Interestingly, the precise expression level of OCT4 determines the fate of embryonic stem cells (4). Nevertheless, further investigations are required to fully elucidate the underlying molecular mechanisms responsible for the maintenance and initiation of pluripotency. Novus Biologicals offers an extensive collection of reagents to investigate epigenetic alterations, including Histone H3.2 K23me2 antibody (NB21-1162), Bmi1 antibody (NBP1-96140) and OCT4 antibody (NB100-2379) and our entire EpiPlus™ line.

  1. PMID: 16212490
  2. PMID: 1922340
  3. PMID: 12714970, PMID: 14574365
  4. PMID: 19480567


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