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DPPA2, DPPA4, and other DPPA factor epigenomic functions in cell fate and cancer.


Many gene networks are shared between pluripotent stem cells and cancer; a concept exemplified by several DPPA factors such as DPPA2 and DPPA4, which are highly and selectively expressed in stem cells but also found to be reactivated in cancer. Despite their striking expression pattern, for many years the function of DPPA2 and DPPA4 remained a mystery; knockout of Dppa2 and Dppa4 did not affect pluripotency, but caused lung and skeletal defects late in development, long after Dppa2 and Dppa4 expression had been turned off. A number of recent papers have further clarified and defined the roles of these important factors, identifying roles in priming the chromatin and maintaining developmental competency through regulating both H3K4me3 and H3K27me3 at bivalent chromatin domains, and acting to remodel chromatin and facilitate reprogramming of somatic cells to induced pluripotency. These findings highlight an important regulatory role for DPPA2 and DPPA4 at the transitional boundary between pluripotency and differentiation and may have relevance to the functions of DPPA2 and 4 in the context of cancer cells as well.

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