Due to their fundamental role in energy production, mitochondria have been traditionally known as the powerhouse of the cell. Recent discoveries have suggested crucial roles of mitochondria in the maintenance of pluripotency, differentiation, and reprogramming of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). While glycolytic energy production is observed at pluripotent states, an increase in mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation is necessary for cell differentiation. Consequently, a transition from somatic mitochondrial oxidative metabolism to glycolysis seems to be required for successful reprogramming. Future research aiming to dissect the roles of mitochondria in the establishment and homeostasis of pluripotency, as well as combining cell reprogramming with gene editing technologies, may unearth novel insights into our understanding of mitochondrial diseases and aging.
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