Embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells hold great promise for regenerative medicine. These cells can be propagated in culture in an undifferentiated state but can be induced to differentiate into specialized cell types. Moreover, these cells provide a powerful model system for studies of cellular identity and early mammalian development. Recent studies have provided insights into the transcriptional control of embryonic stem cell state, including the regulatory circuitry underlying pluripotency. These studies have, as a consequence, uncovered fundamental mechanisms that control mammalian gene expression, connect gene expression to chromosome structure, and contribute to human disease.
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