Transient suppression of SUMOylation in embryonic stem cells generates embryo-like structures.

Cossec Jack-Christophe and Traboulsi Tatiana and Sart Sébastien and Loe-Mie Yann and Guthmann Manuel and Hendriks Ivo A and Theurillat Ilan and Nielsen Michael L and Torres-Padilla Maria-Elena and Baroud Charles N and Dejean Anne

Recent advances in synthetic embryology have opened new avenues for understanding the complex events controlling mammalian peri-implantation development. Here, we show that mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) solely exposed to chemical inhibition of SUMOylation generate embryo-like structures comprising anterior neural and trunk-associated regions. HypoSUMOylation-instructed ESCs give rise to spheroids that self-organize into gastrulating structures containing cell types spatially and functionally related to embryonic and extraembryonic compartments. Alternatively, spheroids cultured in a droplet microfluidic device form elongated structures that undergo axial organization reminiscent of natural embryo morphogenesis. Single-cell transcriptomics reveals various cellular lineages, including properly positioned anterior neuronal cell types and paraxial mesoderm segmented into somite-like structures. Transient SUMOylation suppression gradually increases DNA methylation genome wide and repressive mark deposition at Nanog. Interestingly, cell-to-cell variations in SUMOylation levels occur during early embryogenesis. Our approach provides a proof of principle for potentially powerful strategies to explore early embryogenesis by targeting chromatin roadblocks of cell fate change.

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April, 2023



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