Telomeres maintain chromosome stability and cell replicative capacity. Telomere shortening occurs concomitant with aging. Short telomeres are associated with some diseases, such as dyskeratosis congenita, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and aplastic anemia. Telomeres are longer in pluripotent stem cells than in somatic cells and lengthen significantly during preimplantation development. Furthermore, telomere elongation during somatic cell reprogramming is of great importance in the acquisition of authentic pluripotency. This review focuses primarily on regulatory mechanisms of telomere length maintenance in pluripotent cells, telomere length extension in early embryo development, and also telomere rejuvenation in somatic cell reprogramming. Telomere related diseases are also discussed in this review.
© 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.