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Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2011 Jan;12(1):36-47. doi: 10.1038/nrm3036.

Open chromatin in pluripotency and reprogramming.

Author information

Departments of Ob/Gyn and Pathology, Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research, Center for Reproductive Sciences and Diabetes Center, University of California San Francisco, 513 Parnassus Ave, San Francisco, CA, 94143-0525, USA.
Department of Genetics, Institute of Life Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91904, Israel.
Contributed equally

Erratum in

  • Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2011 Apr;12(4):273.


Pluripotent stem cells can be derived from embryos or induced from adult cells by reprogramming. They are unique among stem cells in that they can give rise to all cell types of the body. Recent findings indicate that a particularly 'open' chromatin state contributes to maintenance of pluripotency. Two principles are emerging: specific factors maintain a globally open chromatin state that is accessible for transcriptional activation; and other chromatin regulators contribute locally to the silencing of lineage-specific genes until differentiation is triggered. These same principles may apply during reacquisition of an open chromatin state upon reprogramming to pluripotency, and during de-differentiation in cancer.

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