Exit from Naive Pluripotency Induces a Transient X Chromosome Inactivation-like State in Males.

03 Aug 2018

A hallmark of naive pluripotency is the presence of two active X chromosomes in females. It is not clear whether prevention of X chromosome inactivation (XCI) is mediated by gene networks that preserve the naive state. Here, we show that robust naive pluripotent stem cell (nPSC) self-renewal represses expression of Xist, the master regulator of XCI. We found that nPSCs accumulate Xist on the male X chromosome and on both female X chromosomes as they become NANOG negative at the onset of differentiation. This is accompanied by the appearance of a repressive chromatin signature and partial X-linked gene silencing, suggesting a transient and rapid XCI-like state in male nPSCs. In the embryo, Xist is transiently expressed in males and in females from both X chromosomes at the onset of naive epiblast differentiation. In conclusion, we propose that XCI initiation is gender independent and triggered by destabilization of naive identity, suggesting that gender-specific mechanisms follow, rather than precede, XCI initiation.