Systems biology of stem cell fate and cellular reprogramming

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2009 Oct;10(10):672-81. doi: 10.1038/nrm2766. Epub 2009 Sep 9.


Stem cell differentiation and the maintenance of self-renewal are intrinsically complex processes requiring the coordinated dynamic expression of hundreds of genes and proteins in precise response to external signalling cues. Numerous recent reports have used both experimental and computational techniques to dissect this complexity. These reports suggest that the control of cell fate has both deterministic and stochastic elements: complex underlying regulatory networks define stable molecular 'attractor' states towards which individual cells are drawn over time, whereas stochastic fluctuations in gene and protein expression levels drive transitions between coexisting attractors, ensuring robustness at the population level.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cellular Reprogramming*
  • Computational Biology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Gene Regulatory Networks / genetics
  • Gene Regulatory Networks / physiology
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Stem Cells / cytology
  • Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Stochastic Processes
  • Systems Biology*