Combinatorial modulation of signaling pathways reveals cell-type-specific requirements for highly efficient and synchronous iPSC reprogramming

Stem Cell Reports. 2014 Oct 14;3(4):574-84. doi: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2014.08.003.


The differentiated state of somatic cells provides barriers for the derivation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). To address why some cell types reprogram more readily than others, we studied the effect of combined modulation of cellular signaling pathways. Surprisingly, inhibition of transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) together with activation of Wnt signaling in the presence of ascorbic acid allows >80% of murine fibroblasts to acquire pluripotency after 1 week of reprogramming factor expression. In contrast, hepatic and blood progenitors predominantly required only TGF-β inhibition or canonical Wnt activation, respectively, to reprogram at efficiencies approaching 100%. Strikingly, blood progenitors reactivated endogenous pluripotency loci in a highly synchronous manner, and we demonstrate that expression of specific chromatin-modifying enzymes and reduced TGF-β/mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase activity are intrinsic properties associated with the unique reprogramming response of these cells. Our observations define cell-type-specific requirements for the rapid and synchronous reprogramming of somatic cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ascorbic Acid / pharmacology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cellular Reprogramming*
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / cytology
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / drug effects
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells / drug effects
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells / metabolism
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System*
  • Mice
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway*


  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Ascorbic Acid