Alternative splicing switching in stem cell lineages

Front Biol (Beijing). 2013 Feb 1;8(1):50-59. doi: 10.1007/s11515-012-1198-y.


The application of stem cells to regenerative medicine depends on a thorough understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying their pluripotency. Many studies have identified key transcription factor-regulated transcriptional networks and chromatin landscapes of embryonic and a number of adult stem cells. In addition, recent publications have revealed another interesting molecular feature of stem cells- a distinct alternative splicing pattern. Thus, it is possible that both the identity and activity of stem cells are maintained by stem cell-specific mRNA isoforms, while switching to different isoforms ensures proper differentiation. In this review, we will discuss the generality of mRNA isoform switching and its interaction with other molecular mechanisms to regulate stem cell pluripotency, as well as the reprogramming process in which differentiated cells are induced to become pluripotent stem cell-like cells (iPSCs).

Keywords: adult stem cells; alternative splicing; embryonic stem cells; epigenetic regulation; post-transcriptional regulation; stem cell maintenance and differentiation.