Molecular control of (stem) cell fate

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The notion of cell identity or phenotype has undergone a seismic shift over the past decade.Until then, cell biologists largely regarded terminally differentiated somatic (i. e. non-germline) cells as deriving from more plastic progenitors via an essentially one-way route. Only recently was the question of reversibility of cell differentiation, a by-product of the inherent stochasticity and plasticity of cells, raised by researchers such as Roeder and Loeffler [1].The explosion of research into stem cells over the past decade in particular has vindicated these early suggestions of mutability and plasticity of cell phenotypes. A recently as 2006, Yamanaka announced the startling discovery that somatic cells can be reprogrammed to pluripotency by a cocktail of transcription factors [2]. Subsequent research has shown that it may be possible to reprogram somatic cells of one type into those of a different type, such as reprogramming skin epithelial cells to neural cells. The idea that a cell’s identity is better described as a probabilistic property than a fixed one is now becoming more widely accepted.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMolecular Engineering and Control
PublisherBeilstein Institut
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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