Epigenetic Memory: Lessons From iPS Cells Derived From Human β Cells

Shimon Efrat*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Incomplete reprogramming of somatic cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) may be responsible for the heterogeneity in differentiation capacity observed among iPSC lines. It remains unclear whether it results from stochastic reprogramming events, or reflects consistent genetic or cell-of-origin differences. Some evidence suggests that epigenetic memory predisposes iPSCs to enhanced differentiation into the parental cell type. We investigated iPSCs reprogrammed from human pancreatic islet β cells (BiPSCs), as a step in development of a robust differentiation protocol for generation of β-like cells. BiPSCs derived from multiple human donors manifested enhanced and reproducible spontaneous and induced differentiation towards insulin-producing cells, compared with iPSCs derived from isogenic non-β-cell types and fibroblast-derived iPSCs (FiPSCs). Genome-wide analyses of open chromatin in BiPSCs and FiPSCs identified thousands of differential open chromatin sites (DOCs) between the two iPSC types. DOCs more open in BiPSCs (Bi-DOCs) were significantly enriched for known regulators of endodermal development, including bivalent and weak enhancers, and FOXA2 binding sites. Bi-DOCs were associated with genes related to pancreas development and β-cell function. These studies provide evidence for reproducible epigenetic memory in BiPSCs. Bi-DOCs may provide clues to genes and pathways involved in the differentiation process, which could be manipulated to increase the efficiency and reproducibility of differentiation of pluripotent stem cells from non-β-cell sources.

Original languageEnglish
Article number614234
JournalFrontiers in Endocrinology
StatePublished - 19 Jan 2021


FundersFunder number
European Union Seventh Framework Program
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in Israel
Israel Science Foundation
Seventh Framework Programme
Innovative Medicines Initiative


    • ATAC-seq
    • Epigenetic memory
    • Foxa2
    • Islet β Cells
    • pluripotent stem cell differentiation


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