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Cell Stem Cell. 2011 Apr 8;8(4):363-9. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2011.03.013.

A precarious balance: pluripotency factors as lineage specifiers.

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Genome Institute of Singapore, Stem Cell & Developmental Biology Group, Singapore, Singapore.


Understanding the basis of the unrestricted multilineage differentiation potential of pluripotent cells will be of developmental and translational consequence. We propose that pluripotency transcription factors are lineage specifiers that direct commitment to specific fetal lineages. Individual factors bestow the ability to differentiate into particular cell types, and concomitant expression of multiple lineage specifiers within pluripotent cells enables differentiation into every fetal lineage. Moreover, we speculate that, rather than being an intrinsically stable "ground state," pluripotency is an inherently precarious condition in which rival lineage specifiers continually compete to specify differentiation along mutually exclusive lineages.

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