Transcription pausing regulates mouse embryonic stem cell differentiation

Melodi Tastemel, Aishwarya A. Gogate, Venkat S. Malladi, Kim Nguyen, Courtney Mitchell, Laura A. Banaszynski, Xiaoying Bai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The pluripotency of embryonic stem cells (ESCs) relies on appropriate responsiveness to developmental cues. Promoter-proximal pausing of RNA polymerase II (Pol II) has been suggested to play a role in keeping genes poised for future activation. To identify the role of Pol II pausing in regulating ESC pluripotency, we have generated mouse ESCs carrying a mutation in the pause-inducing factor SPT5. Genomic studies reveal genome-wide reduction of paused Pol II caused by mutant SPT5 and further identify a tight correlation between pausing-mediated transcription effect and local chromatin environment. Functionally, this pausing-deficient SPT5 disrupts ESC differentiation upon removal of self-renewal signals. Thus, our study uncovers an important role of Pol II pausing in regulating ESC differentiation and suggests a model that Pol II pausing coordinates with epigenetic modification to influence transcription during mESC differentiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)250-255
Number of pages6
JournalStem Cell Research
StatePublished - Dec 2017


  • Global run-on sequencing (GRO-seq)
  • Mouse embryonic stem cell
  • Transcription pausing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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