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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Oct 18;108(42):17331-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1100733108. Epub 2011 Sep 9.

Synergic reprogramming of mammalian cells by combined exposure to mitotic Xenopus egg extracts and transcription factors.

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Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Institute of Human Genetics, 34396 Montpellier, France.


Transfer of somatic cell nuclei to enucleated eggs and ectopic expression of specific transcription factors are two different reprogramming strategies used to generate pluripotent cells from differentiated cells. However, these methods are poorly efficient, and other unknown factors might be required to increase their success rate. Here we show that Xenopus egg extracts at the metaphase stage (M phase) have a strong reprogramming activity on mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs). First, they reset replication properties of MEF nuclei toward a replication profile characteristic of early development, and they erase several epigenetic marks, such as trimethylation of H3K9, H3K4, and H4K20. Second, when MEFs are reversibly permeabilized in the presence of M-phase Xenopus egg extracts, they show a transient increase in cell proliferation, form colonies, and start to express specific pluripotency markers. Finally, transient exposure of MEF nuclei to M-phase Xenopus egg extracts increases the success of nuclear transfer to enucleated mouse oocytes and strongly synergizes with the production of pluripotent stem cells by ectopic expression of transcription factors. The mitotic stage of the egg extract is crucial, because none of these effects is detected when using interphasic Xenopus egg extracts. Our data demonstrate that mitosis is essential to make mammalian somatic nuclei prone to reprogramming and that, surprisingly, the heterologous Xenopus system has features that are conserved enough to remodel mammalian nuclei.

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