PerspectivePluripotent Stem Cells

Reprogramming favors the elite

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Science  26 Apr 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6438, pp. 330-331
DOI: 10.1126/science.aax1681

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Summary

Embryonic stem cells have the ability to divide indefinitely and differentiate into any cell type of the body. They are therefore viewed as a potentially unlimited source of cells for patients in need of cellular therapy (1). In 2006, Takahashi and Yamanaka reported that fully differentiated mouse fibroblasts (2) [and later, human fibroblasts (3)] could be reprogrammed into an embryonic-like state known as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Human iPSCs hold enormous promise for regenerative medicine, producing, for example, neurons to treat Parkinson's disease or lung cells to treat pulmonary diseases. There is considerable interest in understanding the precise molecular steps that underlie reprogramming. On page 354 of this issue, Shakiba et al. (4) show that within a population of cells, reprogramming is dominated by a small number of “elite” clones that are especially poised to become pluripotent stem cells.