In JoVE (1)

Other Publications (1)

Articles by Lindsey C. Swanson in JoVE

Other articles by Lindsey C. Swanson on PubMed

Natural and Artificial Routes to Pluripotency

The International Journal of Developmental Biology. 2010  |  Pubmed ID: 21404178

Pluripotent cells of the blastocyst inner cell mass (ICM) and their in vitro derivatives, embryonic stem (ES) cells, contain genomes in an epigenetic state that are poised for subsequent differentiation. Their chromatin is hyperdynamic in nature and relatively uncondensed. In addition, a large number of genes are expressed at low levels in both ICM and ES cells. Also, the chromatin of naturally pluripotent cells contains specialized histone modification patterns such as bivalent domains, which mark genes destined for later developmentally-regulated expression states. Female pluripotent cells contain X chromosomes that have yet to undergo the process of X chromosome inactivation. Collectively, these features of very early embyronic chromatin are required for the successful specification and production of differentiated cell lineages. Artificial reprogramming methods such as somatic nuclear transfer (SCNT), ES cell fusion-mediated reprogramming (FMR), and induced pluripotency (iPS) yield pluripotent cells that recapitulate many features of naturally pluripotent cells, including many of their epigenetic features. However, the route to pluripotent epigenomic states in artificial pluripotent cells differs drastically from that of their natural counterparts. Here, we compare and contrast the differing routes to pluripotency under natural and artificial conditions. In addition, we discuss the intrinsically metastable nature of the pluripotent epigenome and consider epigenetic aspects of reprogramming that may lead to incomplete or inaccurate reprogrammed states. Artificial methods of reprogramming hold immense promise for the development of autologous cell graft sources and for the development of cell culture models for human genetic disorders. However, the utility of artificially reprogrammed cells is highly dependent on the fidelity of the reprogramming process and it is therefore critically important to assess the epigenetic similarities between embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells.

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