Dysregulation of forkhead box protein A2 (Foxa2) expression in fetal ventral mesencephalon (VM)-derived neural precursor cells (NPCs) appears to be associated with the loss of their potential to differentiate into dopaminergic (DA) neurons after mitogenic expansion in vitro, hindering their efficient use as a transplantable cell source. Here, we report that epigenetic activation of Foxa2 in VM-derived NPCs by inducing histone hyperacetylation rescues the mitogenic-expansion-dependent decrease of differentiation potential to DA neurons. The silencing of Foxa2 gene expression after expansion is accompanied by repressive histone modifications, including hypoacetylation of histone H3 and H4 and trimethylation of H3K27 on the Foxa2 promoter, as well as on the global level. In addition, histone deacetylase 7 (HDAC7) is highly expressed during differentiation and recruited to the Foxa2 promoter. Induction of histone acetylation in VM-derived NPCs by either knockdown of HDAC7 or treatment with the HDAC inhibitor apicidin upregulates Foxa2 expression via hyperacetylation of H3 and a decrease in H3K27 trimethylation on the promoter regions, leading to the expression of DA neuron developmental genes and enhanced differentiation of DA neurons. These effects are antagonized by the expression of shRNAs specific for Foxa2 but enhanced by shRNA for HDAC7. Collectively, these findings indicate that loss of differentiation potential of expanded VM-derived NPCs is attributed to a decrease in Foxa2 expression and suggest that activation of the endogenous Foxa2 gene by epigenetic regulation might be an approach to enhance the generation of DA neurons.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental Biology
- Cell Biology