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Transition from pluripotency to differentiation is a pivotal yet poorly understood developmental step. Here, we show that the tumour suppressor RASSF1A is a key player driving the early specification of cell fate. RASSF1A acts as a natural barrier to stem cell self-renewal and iPS cell generation, by switching YAP from an integral component in the β-catenin-TCF pluripotency network to a key factor that promotes differentiation. We demonstrate that epigenetic regulation of the Rassf1A promoter maintains stemness by allowing a quaternary association of YAP-TEAD and β-catenin-TCF3 complexes on the Oct4 distal enhancer. However, during differentiation, promoter demethylation allows GATA1-mediated RASSF1A expression which prevents YAP from contributing to the TEAD/β-catenin-TCF3 complex. Simultaneously, we find that RASSF1A promotes a YAP-p73 transcriptional programme that enables differentiation. Together, our findings demonstrate that RASSF1A mediates transcription factor selection of YAP in stem cells, thereby acting as a functional "switch" between pluripotency and initiation of differentiation.

Original publication

DOI

10.1038/s41467-017-02786-5

Type

Journal article

Journal

Nature communications

Publication Date

30/01/2018

Volume

9

Pages

424 - 424

Addresses

CRUK/MRC Oxford Institute, Department of Oncology, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX3 7DQ, UK.