Differential localization patterns of pyruvate kinase isoforms in murine naïve, formative and primed pluripotent states
Mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) and mouse epiblast stem cells (mEpiSCs) represent opposite ends of a pluripotency continuum, referred to as naïve and primed pluripotent states, respectively. These divergent pluripotent states differ in several ways including growth factor requirements, transcription factor expression, DNA methylation patterns, and metabolic profiles. Naïve cells employ both glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS), whereas primed cells preferentially utilize aerobic
... glycolysis, a trait shared with cancer cells referred to as the Warburg effect. Until recently, metabolism has been regarded as a by-product of cell fate; however, evidence now supports metabolism as being a driver of stem cell state and fate decisions. Pyruvate kinase muscle isoforms (PKM1 and PKM2) are important for generating and maintaining pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) and mediating the Warburg effect. Both isoforms catalyze the last step of glycolysis generating adenosine triphosphate and pyruvate, however, the precise role(s) of PKM1/2 in naïve and primed pluripotency is not well understood. The primary objective was to characterize the cellular expression and localization patterns of PKM1 and PKM2 in mESCs, chemically transitioned epiblast-like cells (mEpiLCs) representing formative pluripotency, and mEpiSCs using immunoblotting, flow cytometry and confocal microscopy. The results indicate that PKM1 and PKM2 are not only localized to the cytoplasm but also accumulate in differential subnuclear regions of mESC, mEpiLCs and mEpiSCs as determined by a quantitative, confocal microscopy colocalization employing orthogonal projections and airyscan processing. Importantly, we discovered that the subnuclear localization of PKM1/2 shifts during the transition from mESCs, mEpiLCs and mEpiSCs. We have also authenticated a new method of selecting formative pluripotency cells from naïve and primed populations using the cell surface markers SSEA1 and CD24. Finally, we have comprehensively validated the appropriateness and power of the Pearson's correlation coefficient and Manders' overlap coefficient for assessing nuclear and cytoplasmic protein colocalization in PSCs by immunofluorescence confocal microscopy. We propose that nuclear PKM1/2 assists with distinct pluripotency state maintenance and lineage priming by non-canonical mechanisms. These results advance our understanding of the overall mechanisms controlling naïve, formative and primed pluripotency.