Reprogramming somatic cells to induced pluripotency by Yamanaka factors is usually slow and inefficient and is thought to be a stochastic process. We identified a privileged somatic cell state, from which acquisition of pluripotency could occur in a nonstochastic manner. Subsets of murine hematopoietic progenitors are privileged whose progeny cells predominantly adopt the pluripotent fate with activation of endogenous Oct4 locus after four to five divisions in reprogramming conditions. Privileged cells display an ultrafast cell cycle of ∼8 hr. In fibroblasts, a subpopulation cycling at a similar ultrafast speed is observed after 6 days of factor expression and is increased by p53 knockdown. This ultrafast cycling population accounts for >99% of the bulk reprogramming activity in wild-type or p53 knockdown fibroblasts. Our data demonstrate that the stochastic nature of reprogramming can be overcome in a privileged somatic cell state and suggest that cell-cycle acceleration toward a critical threshold is an important bottleneck for reprogramming. PAPERCLIP:
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