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Trends Genet. 2011 Feb;27(2):55-62. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2010.11.002. Epub 2010 Dec 14.

Understanding gene circuits at cell-fate branch points for rational cell reprogramming.

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Institute for Biocomplexity and Informatics, Biological Sciences Bldg, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, T2N 1N4.


Cell-type reprogramming, the artificial induction of a switch of cell lineage and developmental stage, holds great promise for regenerative medicine. However, how does the metazoan body itself 'program' the various cell lineages in the first place? Knowledge of how multipotent cells make cell-fate decisions and commit to a particular lineage is crucial for a rational reprogramming strategy and to avoid trial-and-error approaches in choosing the appropriate set of transcription factors to use. In the past few years, a general principle has emerged in which small gene circuits of cross-inhibition and self-activation govern the decision at branch points of cell development. A formal theoretical treatment of such circuits that deal with their dynamics on the 'epigenetic landscape' could offer some guidance to find the optimal way of cell reprogramming.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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