Telomere regulation in pluripotent stem cells

Protein Cell. 2014 Mar;5(3):194-202. doi: 10.1007/s13238-014-0028-1. Epub 2014 Feb 22.

Abstract

Pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) have the potential to produce any types of cells from all three basic germ layers and the capacity to self-renew and proliferate indefinitely in vitro. The two main types of PSCs, embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), share common features such as colony morphology, high expression of Oct4 and Nanog, and strong alkaline phosphatase activity. In recent years, increasing evidences suggest that telomere length represents another important internal factor in maintaining stem cell pluripotency. Telomere length homeostasis and its structural integrity help to protect chromosome ends from recombination, end fusion, and DNA damage responses, ensuring the divisional ability of mammalian cells. PSCs generally exhibit high telomerase activity to maintain their extremely long and stable telomeres, and emerging data indicate the alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) pathway may play an important role in telomere functions too. Such characteristics are likely key to their abilities to differentiate into diverse cell types in vivo. In this review, we will focus on the function and regulation of telomeres in ESCs and iPSCs, thereby shedding light on the importance of telomere length to pluripotency and the mechanisms that regulate telomeres in PSCs.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Telomerase / metabolism
  • Telomere / metabolism*
  • Telomere Homeostasis

Substances

  • Telomerase