Epigenetic Reprogramming To Create Pluripotent Stem Cells Is Focus of Cellular Reprogramming

Create: 02/17/2010 - 00:00
New Rochelle, NY: Epigenetic reprogramming relies on nonheritable changes in chromosome structure, DNA modification patterns, or RNA transcript levels to turn somatic cells such as skin cells into dedifferentiated, pluripotent cells that could be used to correct inherited diseases or to repair and regenerate tissues and organs damaged by trauma or disease. Advances in the emerging field of epigenetic reprogramming are the focus of a special issue of the peer-reviewed journal Cellular Reprogramming (formerly Cloning and Stem Cells), published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. The complete special issue is also available free online.

Reprogrammed human cells that revert to an earlier stage of development and can then be induced to differentiate into a variety of different cell types, such as liver, kidney, or nerve cells, have enormous potential value. Researchers are experimenting with cellular reprogramming strategies that will yield models of human disease for use in research and development of novel therapies. Reprogrammed cells from individual patients could be used to generate patient-specific pluripotent stem cells to correct genetic disorders or to repair or replace damaged tissues. Cellular reprogramming also offers the possibility to generate libraries of cells with specified genetic characteristics that would be suitable for therapeutic use in defined patient populations.

This special issue of Cellular Reprogramming highlights epigenetic mechanisms such as manipulation of DNA methylation patterns and changes in the activity of histone-modifying enzymes that affect chromosome structure. Yu-Qiang Li, PhD, from Shandong University at Weihai (China), explores the signaling pathways and regulatory networks that control gene expression related to cell fate decisions in pluripotent stem cells in the review paper "Master Stem Cell Transcription Factors and Signaling Regulation."

Ching-Chien Chang, PhD, and colleagues from the University of Connecticut, Storrs, National Taiwan University, Taipei, and Reproductive Biology Associates, Atlanta, GA, compared chromatin remodeling mechanisms that effect an embryo shortly after fertilization to the mechanisms active in nuclear reprogramming achieved by somatic cell nuclear transfer. The results are presented in their paper "Rapid Elimination of the Histone Variant MacroH2A from Somatic Cell Heterochromatin after Nuclear Transfer."

Contact: Vicki Cohn

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