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FoxA2 hunting research identifies the early trail of mesenchymal differentiation

Paolo Madeddu

Author Affiliations

Chair of Experimental Cardiovascular Medicine, Section of Regenerative Medicine, School of Clinical Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol BS2 8HW, United Kingdom

Stem Cell Research & Therapy 2013, 4:40  doi:10.1186/scrt188

See related research by Howard et al.,

Published: 24 April 2013


Epigenetic regulation offers a flexible means to instruct cell functions and fate. In human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), thousands of genes are targets for histone modifications leading to activation or suppression of transcription. Novel research now indicates that, in hESCs, the transcription start site of FOXA2, encoding a member of the forkhead family of transcription factors, is bivalently marked with histone modifications for both gene activation and repression. Moreover, FOXA2 is remarkably upregulated at an early stage of endothelial differentiation. These discoveries provide better understanding of the natural program of differentiation and also open up new opportunities for large scale production of endothelial progenitors.