Chromatin reorganization is necessary for pluripotent stem cells, including embryonic stem cells (ESCs), to acquire lineage potential. However, it remains unclear how ESCs maintain their characteristic chromatin state for appropriate gene expression upon differentiation. Here, we demonstrate that chromodomain helicase DNA-binding domain 2 (Chd2) is required to maintain the differentiation potential of mouse ESCs. Chd2-depleted ESCs showed suppressed expression of developmentally regulated genes upon differentiation and subsequent differentiation defects without affecting gene expression in the undifferentiated state. Furthermore, chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by sequencing revealed alterations in the nucleosome occupancy of the histone variant H3.3 for developmentally regulated genes in Chd2-depleted ESCs, which in turn led to elevated trimethylation of the histone H3 lysine 27. These results suggest that Chd2 is essential in preventing suppressive chromatin formation for developmentally regulated genes and determines subsequent effects on developmental processes in the undifferentiated state.
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