γH2AX in mouse embryonic stem cells: Distribution during differentiation and following γ-irradiation

Tom C. Karagiannis, Christian Orlowski, Katherine Ververis, Eleni Pitsillou, Gulcan Sarila, Samuel T. Keating, Laura J. Foong, Stefanie Fabris, Christina Ngo-Nguyen, Neha Malik, Jun Okabe, Andrew Hung, Theo Mantamadiotis, Assam El-Osta

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Phosphorylated histone H2AX (γH2AX) represents a sensitive molecular marker of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) and is implicated in stem cell biology. We established a model of mouse embryonic stem cell (mESC) differentiation and examined the dynamics of γH2AX foci during the process. Our results revealed high numbers of γH2AX foci in undifferentiated mESCs, decreasing as the cells differentiated towards the endothelial cell lineage. Notably, we observed two distinct patterns of γH2AX foci: the typical discrete γH2AX foci, which colocalize with the transcriptionally permissive chromatin mark H3K4me3, and the less well-characterized clustered γH2AX regions, which were only observed in intermediate progenitor cells. Next, we explored responses of mESCs to γ-radiation (137Cs). Following exposure to γ-radiation, mESCs showed a reduction in cell viability and increased γH2AX foci, indicative of radiosensitivity. Despite irradiation, surviving mESCs retained their differentiation potential. To further exemplify our findings, we investigated neural stem progenitor cells (NSPCs). Similar to mESCs, NSPCs displayed clustered γH2AX foci associated with progenitor cells and discrete γH2AX foci indicative of embryonic stem cells or differentiated cells. In conclusion, our findings demonstrate that γH2AX serves as a versatile marker of DSBs and may have a role as a biomarker in stem cell differentiation. The distinct patterns of γH2AX foci in differentiating mESCs and NSPCs provide valuable insights into DNA repair dynamics during differentiation, shedding light on the intricate balance between genomic integrity and cellular plasticity in stem cells. Finally, the clustered γH2AX foci observed in intermediate progenitor cells is an intriguing feature, requiring further exploration.

Original languageEnglish
Article number203882
JournalCells & Development
Volume177
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
ISSN2667-291X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024

Keywords

  • DNA-damage
  • Sca-1 progenitor
  • Stem cell differentiation
  • mESCs
  • γH2AX

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