Chemical reversion of conventional human pluripotent stem cells to a naïve-like state with improved multilineage differentiation potency

Tea Soon Park, Ludovic Zimmerlin, Rebecca Evans-Moses, Elias T. Zambidis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Naïve human pluripotent stem cells (N-hPSC) with improved functionality may have a wide impact in regenerative medicine. The goal of this protocol is to efficiently revert lineage-primed, conventional human pluripotent stem cells (hPSC) maintained on either feeder-free or feeder-dependent conditions to a naïve-like pluripotency with improved functionality. This chemical naïve reversion method employs the classical leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF), GSK3β, and MEK/ERK inhibition cocktail (LIF-2i), supplemented with only a tankyrase inhibitor XAV939 (LIF-3i). LIF-3i reverts conventional hPSC to a stable pluripotent state adopting biochemical, transcriptional, and epigenetic features of the human pre-implantation epiblast. This LIF-3i method requires minimal cell culture manipulation and is highly reproducible in a broad repertoire of human embryonic stem cell (hESC) and transgene-free human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) lines. The LIF-3i method does not require a re-priming step prior to the differentiation; N-hPSC can be differentiated directly with extremely high efficiencies and maintain karyotypic and epigenomic stabilities (including at imprinted loci). To increase the universality of the method, conventional hPSC are first cultured in the LIF-3i cocktail supplemented with two additional small molecules that potentiate protein kinase A (forskolin) and sonic hedgehog (sHH) (purmorphamine) signaling (LIF-5i). This brief LIF-5i adaptation step significantly enhances the initial clonal expansion of conventional hPSC and permits them to be subsequently naïve-reverted with LIF-3i alone in bulk quantities, thus obviating the need for picking/subcloning rare N-hPSC colonies later. LIF-5i-stabilized hPSCs are subsequently maintained in LIF-3i alone without the need of anti-apoptotic molecules. Most importantly, LIF-3i reversion markedly improves the functional pluripotency of a broad repertoire of conventional hPSC by decreasing their lineage-primed gene expression and erasing the interline variability of directed differentiation commonly observed amongst independent hPSC lines. Representative characterizations of LIF-3i-reverted N-hPSC are provided, and experimental strategies for functional comparisons of isogenic hPSC in lineage-primed vs. naïve-like states are outlined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere57921
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number136
StatePublished - Jun 10 2018


  • Developmental Biology
  • Differentiation
  • Epiblast
  • Human pluripotent stem cell
  • Issue 136
  • Naïve pluripotency
  • Small molecule
  • Tankyrase inhibition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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