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The control of gene expression in neural stem cells is key to understanding their developmental and therapeutic potential, yet we know little of the transcriptional mechanisms that underlie their differentiation. Recent evidence has implicated the RE1 silencing transcription factor (REST) in neuronal differentiation. However, the means by which REST regulates transcription in neural stem cells remain unclear. Here, we show that REST recruits distinct corepressor platforms in neural stem cells. REST is able to both silence and repress neuronal genes in embryonic hippocampal neural stem cells by creating a chromatin environment that contains both repressive local epigenetic signature (characterized by low levels of histones H4 and H3K9 acetylation and elevated dimethylation of H3K9) and H3K4 methylation, which are characteristic of gene activation. Furthermore, inhibition of REST function leads to activation of several neuron-specific genes but does not lead to overt formation of mature neurons, supporting the notion that REST regulates part, but not all, of the neuronal differentiation program.

Original publication




Journal article


Stem Cells

Publication Date





354 - 363


Animals, Cattle, Cell Differentiation, Chromatin, Chromatin Immunoprecipitation, DNA-Binding Proteins, Embryonic Stem Cells, Gene Silencing, Hippocampus, Histone Deacetylases, Histones, Humans, Mice, Nerve Tissue Proteins, Neurons, Protein Binding, Protein Transport, RNA, Messenger, Regulatory Sequences, Nucleic Acid, Repressor Proteins, Transcription Factors, Tubulin