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Stem Cells Dev. 2008 Dec;17(6):1043-52. doi: 10.1089/scd.2008.0036.

Epigenetic regulation of mammalian stem cells.

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  • 1Department of Neurosciences, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131, USA.


Two critical properties of stem cells are self-renewal and multipotency. The maintenance of their "stemness" state and commitment to differentiation are therefore tightly controlled by intricate molecular networks. Epigenetic mechanisms, including DNA methylation, chromatin remodeling and the noncoding RNA-mediated process, have profound regulatory roles in mammalian gene expression. Recent studies have shown that epigenetic regulators are key players in stem cell biology and their dysfunction can result in human diseases such as cancer and neurodevelopmental disorders. Here, we review the recent evidences that advance our knowledge in epigenetic regulations of mammalian stem cells, with focus on embryonic stem cells and neural stem cells.

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