The pioneer activity of transcription factors allows for opening of inaccessible regulatory elements and has been extensively studied in the context of cellular differentiation and reprogramming. In contrast, the function of pioneer activity in self-renewing cell divisions and across the cell cycle is poorly understood. Here we assessed the interplay between OCT4 and SOX2 in controlling chromatin accessibility of mouse embryonic stem cells. We found that OCT4 and SOX2 operate in a largely independent manner even at co-occupied sites, and that their cooperative binding is mostly mediated indirectly through regulation of chromatin accessibility. Controlled protein degradation strategies revealed that the uninterrupted presence of OCT4 is required for post-mitotic re-establishment and interphase maintenance of chromatin accessibility, and that highly OCT4-bound enhancers are particularly vulnerable to transient loss of OCT4 expression. Our study sheds light on the constant pioneer activity required to maintain the dynamic pluripotency regulatory landscape in an accessible state.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)