Academic Appointments

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  • Applications of genetically engineered human pluripotent stem cell reporters in cardiac stem cell biology. Current opinion in biotechnology Zhang, J. Z., Guo, H., Wu, J. C. 2018; 52: 66–73


    The advent of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) has benefited many fields, from regenerative medicine to disease modeling, with an especially profound effect in cardiac research. Coupled with other novel technologies in genome engineering, hPSCs offer a great opportunity to delineate human cardiac lineages, investigate inherited cardiovascular diseases, and assess the safety and efficacy of cell-based therapies. In this review, we provide an overview of methods for generating genetically engineered hPSC reporters and a succinct synopsis of a variety of hPSC reporters, with a particular focus on their applications in cardiac stem cell biology.

    View details for PubMedID 29579626

  • Induced pluripotent stem cells as a biopharmaceutical factory for extracellular vesicles. European heart journal Nishiga, M. n., Guo, H. n., Wu, J. C. 2018

    View details for PubMedID 29547885

  • SETD7 Drives Cardiac Lineage Commitment through Stage-Specific Transcriptional Activation. Cell stem cell Lee, J. n., Shao, N. Y., Paik, D. T., Wu, H. n., Guo, H. n., Termglinchan, V. n., Churko, J. M., Kim, Y. n., Kitani, T. n., Zhao, M. T., Zhang, Y. n., Wilson, K. D., Karakikes, I. n., Snyder, M. P., Wu, J. C. 2018; 22 (3): 428–44.e5


    Cardiac development requires coordinated and large-scale rearrangements of the epigenome. The roles and precise mechanisms through which specific epigenetic modifying enzymes control cardiac lineage specification, however, remain unclear. Here we show that the H3K4 methyltransferase SETD7 controls cardiac differentiation by reading H3K36 marks independently of its enzymatic activity. Through chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq), we found that SETD7 targets distinct sets of genes to drive their stage-specific expression during cardiomyocyte differentiation. SETD7 associates with different co-factors at these stages, including SWI/SNF chromatin-remodeling factors during mesodermal formation and the transcription factor NKX2.5 in cardiac progenitors to drive their differentiation. Further analyses revealed that SETD7 binds methylated H3K36 in the bodies of its target genes to facilitate RNA polymerase II (Pol II)-dependent transcription. Moreover, abnormal SETD7 expression impairs functional attributes of terminally differentiated cardiomyocytes. Together, these results reveal how SETD7 acts at sequential steps in cardiac lineage commitment, and they provide insights into crosstalk between dynamic epigenetic marks and chromatin-modifying enzymes.

    View details for PubMedID 29499155

  • RNAi Reveals Phase-Specific Global Regulators of Human Somatic Cell Reprogramming CELL REPORTS Toh, C. D., Chan, J., Chong, Z., Wang, H. F., Guo, H. C., Satapathy, S., Ma, D., Goh, G. Y., Khattar, E., Yang, L., Tergaonkar, V., Chang, Y., Collins, J. J., Daley, G. Q., Wee, K. B., El Farran, C. A., Li, H., Lim, Y., Bard, F. A., Loh, Y. 2016; 15 (12): 2597-2607


    Incomplete knowledge of the mechanisms at work continues to hamper efforts to maximize reprogramming efficiency. Here, we present a systematic genome-wide RNAi screen to determine the global regulators during the early stages of human reprogramming. Our screen identifies functional repressors and effectors that act to impede or promote the reprogramming process. Repressors and effectors form close interacting networks in pathways, including RNA processing, G protein signaling, protein ubiquitination, and chromatin modification. Combinatorial knockdown of five repressors (SMAD3, ZMYM2, SFRS11, SAE1, and ESET) synergistically resulted in ∼85% TRA-1-60-positive cells. Removal of the novel splicing factor SFRS11 during reprogramming is accompanied by rapid acquisition of pluripotency-specific spliced forms. Mechanistically, SFRS11 regulates exon skipping and mutually exclusive splicing of transcripts in genes involved in cell differentiation, mRNA splicing, and chromatin modification. Our study provides insights into the reprogramming process, which comprises comprehensive and multi-layered transcriptional, splicing, and epigenetic machineries.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.05.049

    View details for Web of Science ID 000378255900004

    View details for PubMedID 27292646

  • Cops2 promotes pluripotency maintenance by Stabilizing Nanog Protein and Repressing Transcription SCIENTIFIC REPORTS Zhang, W., Ni, P., Mou, C., Zhang, Y., Guo, H., Zhao, T., Loh, Y., Chen, L. 2016; 6


    The COP9 signalosome has been implicated in pluripotency maintenance of human embryonic stem cells. Yet, the mechanism for the COP9 signalosome to regulate pluripotency remains elusive. Through knocking down individual COP9 subunits, we demonstrate that Cops2, but not the whole COP9 signalosome, is essential for pluripotency maintenance in mouse embryonic stem cells. Down-regulation of Cops2 leads to reduced expression of pluripotency genes, slower proliferation rate, G2/M cell cycle arrest, and compromised embryoid differentiation of embryonic stem cells. Cops2 also facilitates somatic cell reprogramming. We further show that Cops2 binds to Nanog protein and prevent the degradation of Nanog by proteasome. Moreover, Cops2 functions as transcriptional corepressor to facilitate pluripotency maintenance. Altogether, our data reveal the essential role and novel mechanisms of Cops2 in pluripotency maintenance.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/srep26804

    View details for Web of Science ID 000376537100001

    View details for PubMedID 27226076

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4881025

  • Erk signaling is indispensable for genomic stability and self-renewal of mouse embryonic stem cells PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Chen, H., Guo, R., Zhang, Q., Guo, H., Yang, M., Wu, Z., Gao, S., Liu, L., Chen, L. 2015; 112 (44): E5936-E5943


    Inhibition of Mek/Erk signaling by pharmacological Mek inhibitors promotes self-renewal and pluripotency of mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs). Intriguingly, Erk signaling is essential for human ESC self-renewal. Here we demonstrate that Erk signaling is critical for mouse ESC self-renewal and genomic stability. Erk-depleted ESCs cannot be maintained. Lack of Erk leads to rapid telomere shortening and genomic instability, in association with misregulated expression of pluripotency genes, reduced cell proliferation, G1 cell-cycle arrest, and increased apoptosis. Erk signaling is also required for the activation of differentiation genes but not for the repression of pluripotency genes during ESC differentiation. Furthermore, we find an Erk-independent function of Mek, which may explain the diverse effects of Mek inhibition and Erk knockout on ESC self-renewal. Together, in contrast to the prevailing view, Erk signaling is required for telomere maintenance, genomic stability, and self-renewal of mouse ESCs.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1516319112

    View details for Web of Science ID 000364164900008

    View details for PubMedID 26483458

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4640739

  • Systematic Identification of Factors for Provirus Silencing in Embryonic Stem Cells CELL Yang, B. X., El Farran, C. A., Guo, H. C., Yu, T., Fang, H. T., Wang, H. F., Schlesinger, S., Seah, Y. F., Goh, G. Y., Neo, S. P., Li, Y., Lorincz, M. C., Tergaonkar, V., Lim, T., Chen, L., Gunaratne, J., Collins, J. J., Goff, S. P., Daley, G. Q., Li, H., Bard, F. A., Loh, Y. 2015; 163 (1): 230-245


    Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) repress the expression of exogenous proviruses and endogenous retroviruses (ERVs). Here, we systematically dissected the cellular factors involved in provirus repression in embryonic carcinomas (ECs) and ESCs by a genome-wide siRNA screen. Histone chaperones (Chaf1a/b), sumoylation factors (Sumo2/Ube2i/Sae1/Uba2/Senp6), and chromatin modifiers (Trim28/Eset/Atf7ip) are key determinants that establish provirus silencing. RNA-seq analysis uncovered the roles of Chaf1a/b and sumoylation modifiers in the repression of ERVs. ChIP-seq analysis demonstrates direct recruitment of Chaf1a and Sumo2 to ERVs. Chaf1a reinforces transcriptional repression via its interaction with members of the NuRD complex (Kdm1a, Hdac1/2) and Eset, while Sumo2 orchestrates the provirus repressive function of the canonical Zfp809/Trim28/Eset machinery by sumoylation of Trim28. Our study reports a genome-wide atlas of functional nodes that mediate proviral silencing in ESCs and illuminates the comprehensive, interconnected, and multi-layered genetic and epigenetic mechanisms by which ESCs repress retroviruses within the genome.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cell.2015.08.037

    View details for Web of Science ID 000361846500034

    View details for PubMedID 26365490

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4686136

  • Role of Nuclear Receptor Coactivator 3 (Ncoa3) in Pluripotency Maintenance JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Wu, Z., Yang, M., Liu, H., Guo, H., Wang, Y., Cheng, H., Chen, L. 2012; 287 (45)


    Nuclear receptors, including Esrrb, Dax1, and Nr5a2, have been shown to be involved in pluripotency maintenance. Yet, the role of their coactivators in mouse embryonic stem cells remains unexplored. Here, we demonstrated that the nuclear receptor coactivator 3 (Ncoa3) is essential for pluripotency maintenance. Knockdown of Ncoa3 not only compromises the expression of pluripotency markers but also impairs in vitro and in vivo differentiation potential of mouse ESCs. Ncoa3 binds to the Nanog promoter and recruits the histone acetyltransferase CREB binding protein (CBP) and the histone arginine methyltransferase CARM1 to activate Nanog expression. Moreover, glycogen synthase kinase 3 GSK3 signaling down-regulates the Ncoa3 protein level to suppress Nanog expression. Thus, Ncoa3 not only contributes to self-renewal by activating Nanog but also facilitates ESC differentiation as a break point to disrupt the core transcriptional circuitry of pluripotency.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M112.373092

    View details for Web of Science ID 000310642200062

    View details for PubMedID 22977234

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3488098