Lineage conversion methodologies meet the reprogramming toolbox

Nat Cell Biol. 2012 Sep;14(9):892-9. doi: 10.1038/ncb2567.


Lineage conversion has recently attracted increasing attention as a potential alternative to the directed differentiation of pluripotent cells to obtain cells of a given lineage. Different means allowing for cell identity switch have been reported. Lineage conversion relied initially on the discovery of specific transcription factors generally enriched and characteristic of the target cell, and their forced expression in cells of a different fate. This approach has been successful in various cases, from cells of the hematopoietic systems to neurons and cardiomyocytes. Furthermore, recent reports have suggested the possibility of establishing a general lineage conversion approach bypassing pluripotency. This requires a first phase of epigenetic erasure achieved by short overexpression of the factors used to reprogram cells to a pluripotent state (such as a combination of Sox2, Klf4, c-Myc and Oct4), followed by exposure to specific developmental cues. Here we present these different direct conversion methodologies and discuss their potential as alternatives to using induced pluripotent stem cells and differentiation protocols to generate cell populations of a given fate.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cell Lineage / genetics
  • Cell Lineage / physiology*
  • Cellular Reprogramming / genetics
  • Cellular Reprogramming / physiology*
  • Epigenomics / methods
  • Humans
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells / physiology