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EMBO Rep. 2011 Apr;12(4):373-8. doi: 10.1038/embor.2011.11. Epub 2011 Mar 11.

Reprogramming of mouse and human somatic cells by high-performance engineered factors.

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The State Key Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 320 Yue-Yang Road, Shanghai 200031, China.

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  • EMBO Rep. 2011 May 1;12(5):478.


Reprogramming somatic cells to become induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) by using defined factors represents an important breakthrough in biology and medicine, yet remains inefficient and poorly understood. We therefore devised synthetic factors by fusing the VP16 transactivation domain to OCT4 (also known as Pou5f1), NANOG and SOX2, respectively. These synthetic factors could reprogramme both mouse and human fibroblasts with enhanced efficiency and accelerated kinetics. Remarkably, Oct4-VP16 alone could efficiently reprogramme mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) into germline-competent iPSCs. Furthermore, episomally delivered synthetic factors could reproducibly generate integration-free iPSCs from MEFs with enhanced efficiency. Our results not only demonstrate the feasibility of engineering more potent reprogramming factors, but also suggest that transcriptional reactivation of OCT4 target genes might be a rate-limiting step in the conversion of somatic cells to pluripotent cells. Synthetic factor-based reprogramming might lead to a paradigm shift in reprogramming research.

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