LSD1 regulates the balance between self-renewal and differentiation in human embryonic stem cells.
We identify LSD1 (lysine-specific demethylase 1; also known as KDM1A and AOF2) as a key histone modifier that participates in the maintenance of pluripotency through the regulation of bivalent domains, a chromatin environment present at the regulatory regions of developmental genes that contains both H3K4 di/trimethylation and H3K27 trimethylation marks. LSD1 occupies the promoters of a subset of developmental genes that contain bivalent domains and are co-occupied by OCT4 and NANOG in human embryonic stem cells, where it controls the levels of H3K4 methylation through its demethylase activity. Thus, LSD1 has a role in maintaining the silencing of several developmental genes in human embryonic stem cells by regulating the critical balance between H3K4 and H3K27 methylation at their regulatory regions.
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