Epigenetic signatures of stem-cell identity

Nat Rev Genet. 2007 Apr;8(4):263-71. doi: 10.1038/nrg2046.


Pluripotent stem cells, similar to more restricted stem cells, are able to both self-renew and generate differentiated progeny. Although this dual functionality has been much studied, the search for molecular signatures of 'stemness' and pluripotency is only now beginning to gather momentum. While the focus of much of this work has been on the transcriptional features of embryonic stem cells, recent studies have indicated the importance of unique epigenetic profiles that keep key developmental genes 'poised' in a repressed but activatable state. Determining how these epigenetic features relate to the transcriptional signatures of ES cells, and whether they are also important in other types of stem cell, is a key challenge for the future.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Chromatin / genetics
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Histones / chemistry
  • Histones / genetics
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Models, Genetic
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Polycomb-Group Proteins
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism


  • Chromatin
  • Histones
  • Polycomb-Group Proteins
  • Repressor Proteins