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Protein Cell. 2013 Nov;4(11):820-32.

Toward pluripotency by reprogramming: mechanisms and application.

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Department of Human Genetics, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA; Genetics and Molecular Biology Graduate Program, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


The somatic epigenome can be reprogrammed to a pluripotent state by a combination of transcription factors. Altering cell fate involves transcription factors cooperation, epigenetic reconfiguration, such as DNA methylation and histone modification, posttranscriptional regulation by microRNAs, and so on. Nevertheless, such reprogramming is inefficient. Evidence suggests that during the early stage of reprogramming, the process is stochastic, but by the late stage, it is deterministic. In addition to conventional reprogramming methods, dozens of small molecules have been identified that can functionally replace reprogramming factors and significantly improve induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) reprogramming. Indeed, iPS cells have been created recently using chemical compounds only. iPSCs are thought to display subtle genetic and epigenetic variability; this variability is not random, but occurs at hotspots across the genome. Here we discuss the progress and current perspectives in the field. Research into the reprogramming process today will pave the way for great advances in regenerative medicine in the future.

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