Abstract

The neural fate commitment of pluripotent stem cells requires the repression of extrinsic inhibitory signals and the activation of intrinsic positive transcription factors. However, how these two events are integrated to ensure appropriate neural conversion remains unclear. Here, we showed that Pou3f1 is essential for the neural differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs), specifically during the transition from epiblast stem cells (EpiSCs) to neural progenitor cells (NPCs). Chimeric analysis showed that Pou3f1 knockdown leads to a markedly decreased incorporation of ESCs in the neuroectoderm. By contrast, Pou3f1-overexpressing ESC derivatives preferentially contribute to the neuroectoderm. Genome-wide ChIP-seq and RNA-seq analyses indicated that Pou3f1 is an upstream activator of neural lineage genes, and also is a repressor of BMP and Wnt signaling. Our results established that Pou3f1 promotes the neural fate commitment of pluripotent stem cells through a dual role, activating internal neural induction programs and antagonizing extrinsic neural inhibitory signals.