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Semin Cell Dev Biol. 1999 Jun;10(3):267-72.

Plasticity of cell fate: insights from heterokaryons.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


Experiments with somatic cell hybrids and stable heterokaryons have demonstrated that differentiated cells exhibit a remarkable capacity to change. Heterokaryons have been particularly useful in determining the extent to which the differentiated state of a cell is plastic. Cell fate can be altered by a change in the balance of positive and negative trans-acting regulators. Although a single regulator may be sufficient in certain environments to trigger a change in cell fate, that regulator may be ineffective in other cell contexts where it encounters a different composition of regulators.

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