Dynamic regulation of EZH2 from HPSc to hepatocyte-like cell fate.
Currently, drug metabolization and toxicity studies rely on the use of primary human hepatocytes and hepatoma cell lines, which both have conceivable limitations. Human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC)-derived hepatocyte-like cells (HLCs) are an alternative and valuable source of hepatocytes that can overcome these limitations. EZH2 (enhancer of zeste homolog 2), a transcriptional repressor of the polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2), may play an important role in hepatocyte development, but its role during in vitro hPSC-HLC differentiation has not yet been assessed. We here demonstrate dynamic regulation of EZH2 during hepatic differentiation of hPSC. To enhance EZH2 expression, we inducibly overexpressed EZH2 between d0 and d8, demonstrating a significant improvement in definitive endoderm formation, and improved generation of HLCs. Despite induction of EZH2 overexpression until d8, EZH2 transcript and protein levels decreased from d4 onwards, which might be caused by expression of microRNAs predicted to inhibit EZH2 expression. In conclusion, our studies demonstrate that EZH2 plays a role in endoderm formation and hepatocyte differentiation, but its expression is tightly post-transcriptionally regulated during this process.