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Trends Cell Biol. 2015 Oct;25(10):592-600. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2015.07.007.

Linking the Cell Cycle to Cell Fate Decisions.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Center for Molecular Medicine, Paul D. Coverdell Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences, University of Georgia, 500 DW Brooks Drive, Athens, GA 30602, USA. Electronic address:


Pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) retain the ability to differentiate into a wide range of cell types while undergoing self-renewal. They also exhibit an unusual mode of cell cycle regulation, reflected by a cell cycle structure where G1 and G2 phases are truncated. When individual PSCs are exposed to specification cues, they activate developmental programs and remodel the cell cycle so that the length of G1 and overall cell division times increase. The response of individual stem cells to pro-differentiation signals is strikingly heterogeneous, resulting in asynchronous differentiation. Recent evidence indicates that this phenomenon is due to cell cycle-dependent mechanisms that restrict the initial activation of developmental genes to the G1 phase. This suggests a broad biological mechanism where multipotent cells are 'primed' to initiate cell fate decisions during their transition through G1. Here, I discuss mechanisms underpinning the commitment towards the differentiated state and its relation to the cell cycle.


cell cycle; cell fate; pluripotency; stem cell.

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