The Chromatin Signature of Pluripotency: Establishment and Maintenance

Curr Stem Cell Rep. 2016;2(3):255-262. doi: 10.1007/s40778-016-0055-3. Epub 2016 Jun 27.


The revolutionary discovery that somatic cells can be reprogrammed by a defined set transcription factors to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) changed dramatically the way we perceive cell fate determination. Importantly, iPSCs, similar to embryo-derived stem cells (ESCs), are characterized by a remarkable developmental plasticity and the capacity to self-renew "indefinitely" under appropriate culture conditions, opening new avenues for personalized therapy and disease modeling. Elucidating the molecular mechanisms that maintain, induce, or alter stem cell identity is crucial for a deeper understanding of cell fate determination and potential translational applications. Intense research over the last 10 years exploiting technological advances in epigenomics and genome editing has unraveled many of the mysteries of pluripotent identity enabling novel and efficient ways to manipulate it for biomedical purposes. In this review, we focus on the chromatin and epigenetic characteristics that distinguish stem cells from somatic cells and their dynamic changes during differentiation and reprogramming.

Keywords: Chromatin architecture; Epigenetics; Pluripotency; Reprogramming; Stem cells.

Publication types

  • Review