Somatic cells can be reprogrammed to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) using oncogenic transcription factors. However, this method leads to genetic aberrations in iPSCs via unknown mechanisms, which may limit their clinical use. Here, we demonstrate that the supplementation of growth media with antioxidants reduces the genome instability of cells transduced with the reprogramming factors. Antioxidant supplementation did not affect transgene expression level or silencing kinetics. Importantly, iPSCs made with antioxidants had significantly fewer de novo copy number variations, but not fewer coding point mutations, than iPSCs made without antioxidants. Our results suggest that the quality and safety of human iPSCs might be enhanced by using antioxidants in the growth media during the generation and maintenance of iPSCs.
The conversion of somatic cells into pluripotent stem cells via overexpression of reprogramming factors involves epigenetic remodeling. DNA methylation at a significant proportion of CpG sites in induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) differs from that of embryonic stem cells (ESCs). Whether different sets of reprogramming factors influence the type and extent of aberrant DNA methylation in iPSCs differently remains unknown. In order to help resolve this critical question, we generated human iPSCs from a common fibroblast cell source using either the Yamanaka factors (OCT4, SOX2, KLF4 and cMYC) or the Thomson factors (OCT4, SOX2, NANOG and LIN28), and determined their genome-wide DNA methylation profiles. In addition to shared DNA methylation aberrations present in all our iPSCs, we identified Yamanaka-iPSC (Y-iPSC)-specific and Thomson-iPSC (T-iPSC)-specific recurrent aberrations. Strikingly, not only were the genomic locations of the aberrations different but also their types: reprogramming with Yamanaka factors mainly resulted in failure to demethylate CpGs, whereas reprogramming with Thomson factors mainly resulted in failure to methylate CpGs. Differences in the level of transcripts encoding DNMT3b and TET3 between Y-iPSCs and T-iPSCs may contribute partially to the distinct types of aberrations. Finally, de novo aberrantly methylated genes in Y-iPSCs were enriched for NANOG targets that are also aberrantly methylated in some cancers. Our study thus reveals that the choice of reprogramming factors influences the amount, location, and class of DNA methylation aberrations in iPSCs. These findings may provide clues into how to produce human iPSCs with fewer DNA methylation abnormalities.
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