Pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) such as embryonic stem cells (ESCs), ESCs derived by somatic cell nuclear transfer (ntESCs), and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) have unlimited capacity for self-renewal and pluripotency and can give rise to all types of somatic cells. In order to maintain their self-renewal and pluripotency, PSCs need to preserve their telomere length and homeostasis. In recent years, increasing studies have shown that telomere reprogramming is essential for stem cell pluripotency maintenance and its induced pluripotency process. Telomere-associated proteins are not only required for telomere maintenance in both stem cells, their extra-telomeric functions have also been found to be critical as well. Here, we will discuss how telomeres and telomere-associated factors participate and regulate the maintenance of stem cell pluripotency.
Keywords: ALT; pluripotent stem cells; shelterin/telosome complex; telomerase; telomere.