Cell potency

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Cell potency is a cell's ability to differentiate into other cell types. [1] [2] [3] The more cell types a cell can differentiate into, the greater its potency. Potency is also described as the gene activation potential within a cell, which like a continuum, begins with totipotency to designate a cell with the most differentiation potential, pluripotency, multipotency, oligopotency, and finally unipotency.

Cell (biology) the basic structural and functional unit of all organisms. Includes the plasma membrane and any external encapsulating structures such as the cell wall and cell envelope.

The cell is the basic structural, functional, and biological unit of all known living organisms. A cell is the smallest unit of life. Cells are often called the "building blocks of life". The study of cells is called cell biology or cellular biology.

Cellular differentiation The process in which relatively unspecialized cells, e.g. embryonic or regenerative cells, acquire specialized structural and/or functional features that characterize the cells, tissues, or organs of the mature organism or some other relatively stabl

Cellular differentiation is the process where a cell changes from one cell type to another. Usually, the cell changes to a more specialized type. Differentiation occurs numerous times during the development of a multicellular organism as it changes from a simple zygote to a complex system of tissues and cell types. Differentiation continues in adulthood as adult stem cells divide and create fully differentiated daughter cells during tissue repair and during normal cell turnover. Some differentiation occurs in response to antigen exposure. Differentiation dramatically changes a cell's size, shape, membrane potential, metabolic activity, and responsiveness to signals. These changes are largely due to highly controlled modifications in gene expression and are the study of epigenetics. With a few exceptions, cellular differentiation almost never involves a change in the DNA sequence itself. Thus, different cells can have very different physical characteristics despite having the same genome.


Pluripotent, embryonic stem cells originate as inner mass cells within a blastocyst. These stem cells can become any tissue in the body, excluding a placenta. Only the morula's cells are totipotent, able to become all tissues and a placenta. Stem cells diagram.png
Pluripotent, embryonic stem cells originate as inner mass cells within a blastocyst. These stem cells can become any tissue in the body, excluding a placenta. Only the morula's cells are totipotent, able to become all tissues and a placenta.


Totipotency (Lat. totipotentia, "ability for all [things]") is the ability of a single cell to divide and produce all of the differentiated cells in an organism. Spores and zygotes are examples of totipotent cells. [4] In the spectrum of cell potency, totipotency represents the cell with the greatest differentiation potential, being able to differentiate into any embryonic cell, as well as extraembryonic cells. In contrast, pluripotent cells can only differentiate into embryonic cells. [5] [6]

Organism Any individual living physical entity

In biology, an organism is any individual entity that exhibits the properties of life. It is a synonym for "life form".

Spore Unit of asexual reproduction that may be adapted for dispersal and for survival, often for extended periods of time, in unfavorable conditions; spores form part of the life cycles of many plants, algae, fungi and protozoa

In biology, a spore is a unit of sexual or asexual reproduction that may be adapted for dispersal and for survival, often for extended periods of time, in unfavourable conditions. Spores form part of the life cycles of many plants, algae, fungi and protozoa. Bacterial spores are not part of a sexual cycle but are resistant structures used for survival under unfavourable conditions. Myxozoan spores release amoebulae into their hosts for parasitic infection, but also reproduce within the hosts through the pairing of two nuclei within the plasmodium, which develops from the amoebula.

Zygote single diploid eukaryotic cell formed by a fertilization event between two gametes

A zygote is a eukaryotic cell formed by a fertilization event between two gametes. The zygote's genome is a combination of the DNA in each gamete, and contains all of the genetic information necessary to form a new individual. In multicellular organisms, the zygote is the earliest developmental stage. In single-celled organisms, the zygote can divide asexually by mitosis to produce identical offspring.

It is possible for a fully differentiated cell to return to a state of totipotency. [7] This conversion to totipotency is complex, not fully understood and the subject of recent research. Research in 2011 has shown that cells may differentiate not into a fully totipotent cell, but instead into a "complex cellular variation" of totipotency. [8] Stem cells resembling totipotent blastomeres from 2-cell stage embryos can arise spontaneously in mouse embryonic stem cell cultures [9] [10] and also can be induced to arise more frequently in vitro through down-regulation of the chromatin assembly activity of CAF-1. [11]

In biology, a blastomere is a type of cell produced by cleavage of the zygote after fertilization and is an essential part of blastula formation.

Chromatin is a complex of DNA, RNA, and protein found in eukaryotic cells. Its primary function is packaging very long DNA molecules into a more compact, denser shape, which prevents the strands from becoming tangled and plays important roles in reinforcing the DNA during cell division, preventing DNA damage, and regulating gene expression and DNA replication. During mitosis and meiosis, chromatin facilitates proper segregation of the chromosomes in anaphase; the characteristic shapes of chromosomes visible during this stage are the result of DNA being coiled into highly condensed networks of chromatin.

CAF-1 is a complex, including Chaf1a (p150), Chaf1b (p60) and p50 subunits that assembles histone tetramers onto replicating DNA in vitro This complex is histone chaperone involved in creating cellular memory of somatic cell identity – cellular differentiation. CAF-1 mediates the first step in nucleosome formation by tetramerization and depositing newly synthesized histone H3/H4 onto DNA rapidly behind replication forks. Several studies have shown that the interaction between CAF-1 and PCNA, which stabilizes CAF-1 at replication forks, is important for CAF-1's role in nucleosome assembly

The human development model is one which can be used to describe how totipotent cells arise. [12] Human development begins when a sperm fertilizes an egg and the resulting fertilized egg creates a single totipotent cell, a zygote. [13] In the first hours after fertilization, this zygote divides into identical totipotent cells, which can later develop into any of the three germ layers of a human (endoderm, mesoderm, or ectoderm), or into cells of the placenta (cytotrophoblast or syncytiotrophoblast). After reaching a 16-cell stage, the totipotent cells of the morula differentiate into cells that will eventually become either the blastocyst's Inner cell mass or the outer trophoblasts. Approximately four days after fertilization and after several cycles of cell division, these totipotent cells begin to specialize. The inner cell mass, the source of embryonic stem cells, becomes pluripotent.

Spermatozoon male reproductive cell

A spermatozoon is a motile sperm cell, or moving form of the haploid cell that is the male gamete. A spermatozoon joins an ovum to form a zygote.


Endoderm is one of the three primary germ layers in the very early embryo. The other two layers are the ectoderm and mesoderm, with the endoderm being the innermost layer. Cells migrating inward along the archenteron form the inner layer of the gastrula, which develops into the endoderm.


In all bilaterian animals, the mesoderm is one of the three primary germ layers in the very early embryo. The other two layers are the ectoderm and endoderm, with the mesoderm as the middle layer between them.

Research on Caenorhabditis elegans suggests that multiple mechanisms including RNA regulation may play a role in maintaining totipotency at different stages of development in some species. [14] Work with zebrafish and mammals suggest a further interplay between miRNA and RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) in determining development differences. [15]

<i>Caenorhabditis elegans</i> free-living species of nematode

Caenorhabditis elegans is a free-living, transparent nematode, about 1 mm in length, that lives in temperate soil environments. It is the type species of its genus. The name is a blend of the Greek caeno- (recent), rhabditis (rod-like) and Latin elegans (elegant). In 1900, Maupas initially named it Rhabditides elegans, Osche placed it in the subgenus Caenorhabditis in 1952, and in 1955, Dougherty raised Caenorhabditis to the status of genus.

Post-transcriptional regulation is the control of gene expression at the RNA level, therefore between the transcription and the translation of the gene. It contributes substantially to gene expression regulation across human tissues.

Zebrafish species of fish

The zebrafish is a freshwater fish belonging to the minnow family (Cyprinidae) of the order Cypriniformes. Native to South Asia, it is a popular aquarium fish, frequently sold under the trade name zebra danio. The zebrafish is also an important and widely used vertebrate model organism in scientific research, for example in drug development, in particular pre-clinical development. It is also notable for its regenerative abilities, and has been modified by researchers to produce many transgenic strains.

Primordial germ cells

In mouse primordial germ cells, genome-wide reprogramming leading to totipotency involves erasure of epigenetic imprints. Reprogramming is facilitated by active DNA demethylation involving the DNA base excision repair enzymatic pathway. [16] This pathway entails erasure of CpG methylation (5mC) in primordial germ cells via the initial conversion of 5mC to 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC), a reaction driven by high levels of the ten-eleven dioxygenase enzymes TET-1 and TET-2. [17]

Genome entirety of an organisms hereditary information; genome of organism (encoded by the genomic DNA) is the (biological) information of heredity which is passed from one generation of organism to the next; is transcribed to produce various RNAs

In the fields of molecular biology and genetics, a genome is the genetic material of an organism. It consists of DNA. The genome includes both the genes and the noncoding DNA, as well as mitochondrial DNA and chloroplast DNA. The study of the genome is called genomics.

DNA demethylation is the process of removal of a methyl group from nucleotides in DNA. Both DNA demethylation and methylation play important roles in mammalian development and differentiation, as well as in cognition and neuroregeneration. DNA methylation on cytosine at CpG sites on a gene promoter leads to the silencing of gene expression, while DNA demethylation of a gene promoter is linked to transcriptional activation and gene expression. These are called epigenetic changes. The DNA methylation status that controls gene expression is copied during DNA replication and is transmitted to daughter cells along with the DNA sequence. This area is currently being investigated for its role in disease progression and for potential treatments, such as cancer therapy.

Base excision repair DNA repair process

Base excision repair (BER) is a cellular mechanism, studied in the fields of biochemistry and genetics, that repairs damaged DNA throughout the cell cycle. It is responsible primarily for removing small, non-helix-distorting base lesions from the genome. The related nucleotide excision repair pathway repairs bulky helix-distorting lesions. BER is important for removing damaged bases that could otherwise cause mutations by mispairing or lead to breaks in DNA during replication. BER is initiated by DNA glycosylases, which recognize and remove specific damaged or inappropriate bases, forming AP sites. These are then cleaved by an AP endonuclease. The resulting single-strand break can then be processed by either short-patch or long-patch BER.


A: Human embryonic stem cells (cell colonies that are not yet differentiated).
B: Nerve cells Human embryonic stem cells.png
A: Human embryonic stem cells (cell colonies that are not yet differentiated).
B: Nerve cells

In cell biology, pluripotency (Lat. pluripotentia, "ability for many [things]") [18] refers to a stem cell that has the potential to differentiate into any of the three germ layers: endoderm (interior stomach lining, gastrointestinal tract, the lungs), mesoderm (muscle, bone, blood, urogenital), or ectoderm (epidermal tissues and nervous system). [19] However, cell pluripotency is a continuum, ranging from the completely pluripotent cell that can form every cell of the embryo proper, e.g., embryonic stem cells and iPSCs (see below), to the incompletely or partially pluripotent cell that can form cells of all three germ layers but that may not exhibit all the characteristics of completely pluripotent cells.

Induced pluripotency

Induced pluripotent stem cells, commonly abbreviated as iPS cells or iPSCs, are a type of pluripotent stem cell artificially derived from a non-pluripotent cell, typically an adult somatic cell, by inducing a "forced" expression of certain genes and transcription factors. [20] These transcription factors play a key role in determining the state of these cells and also highlights the fact that these somatic cells do preserve the same genetic information as early embryonic cells. [21] The ability to induce cells into a pluripotent state was initially pioneered in 2006 using mouse fibroblasts and four transcription factors, Oct4, Sox2, Klf4 and c-Myc; [22] this technique, called reprogramming, earned Shinya Yamanaka and John Gurdon the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2012. [23] This was then followed in 2007 by the successful induction of human iPSCs derived from human dermal fibroblasts using methods similar to those used for the induction of mouse cells. [24] These induced cells exhibit similar traits to those of embryonic stem cells (ESCs) but do not require the use of embryos. Some of the similarities between ESCs and iPSCs include pluripotency, morphology, self-renewal ability, a trait that implies that they can divide and replicate indefinitely, and gene expression. [25]

Epigenetic factors are also thought to be involved in the actual reprogramming of somatic cells in order to induce pluripotency. It has been theorized that certain epigenetic factors might actually work to clear the original somatic epigenetic marks in order to acquire the new epigenetic marks that are part of achieving a pluripotent state. Chromatin is also reorganized in iPSCs and becomes like that found in ESCs in that it is less condensed and therefore more accessible. Euchromatin modifications are also common which is also consistent with the state of euchromatin found in ESCs. [25]

Due to their great similarity to ESCs, iPSCs have been of great interest to the medical and research community. iPSCs could potentially have the same therapeutic implications and applications as ESCs but without the controversial use of embryos in the process, a topic of great bioethical debate. In fact, the induced pluripotency of somatic cells into undifferentiated iPS cells was originally hailed as the end of the controversial use of embryonic stem cells. However, iPSCs were found to be potentially tumorigenic, and, despite advances, [20] were never approved for clinical stage research in the United States. Setbacks such as low replication rates and early senescence have also been encountered when making iPSCs, [26] hindering their use as ESCs replacements.

Additionally, it has been determined that the somatic expression of combined transcription factors can directly induce other defined somatic cell fates (transdifferentiation); researchers identified three neural-lineage-specific transcription factors that could directly convert mouse fibroblasts (skin cells) into fully functional neurons. [27] This result challenges the terminal nature of cellular differentiation and the integrity of lineage commitment; and implies that with the proper tools, all cells are totipotent and may form all kinds of tissue.

Some of the possible medical and therapeutic uses for iPSCs derived from patients include their use in cell and tissue transplants without the risk of rejection that is commonly encountered. iPSCs can potentially replace animal models unsuitable as well as in vitro models used for disease research. [28]

Naive vs. primed pluripotency states

Recent findings with respect to epiblasts before and after implantation have produced proposals for classifying pluripotency into two distinct phases: "naive" and "primed". [29] The baseline stem cells commonly used in science that are referred as Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are derived from a pre-implantation epiblast; such epiblast is able to generate the entire fetus, and one epiblast cell is able to contribute to all cell lineages if injected into another blastocyst. On the other hand, several marked differences can be observed between the pre- and post-implantation epiblasts, such as their difference in morphology, in which the epiblast after implantation changes its morphology into a cup-like shape called the "egg cylinder" as well as chromosomal alteration in which one of the X-chromosomes under random inactivation in the early stage of the egg cylinder, known as X-inactivation. [30] During this development, the egg cylinder epiblast cells are systematically targeted by Fibroblast growth factors, Wnt signaling, and other inductive factors via the surrounding yolk sac and the trophoblast tissue, [31] such that they become instructively specific according to the spatial organization. [32]

Another major difference that was observed, with respect to cell potency, is that post-implantation epiblast stem cells are unable to contribute to blastocyst chimeras, [33] which distinguishes them from other known pluripotent stem cells. Cell lines derived from such post-implantation epiblasts are referred to as epiblast-derived stem cells which were first derived in laboratory in 2007; despite their nomenclature, that both ESCs and EpiSCs are derived from epiblasts, just at difference phases of development, and that pluripotency is still intact in the post-implantation epiblast, as demonstrated by the conserved expression of Nanog, Fut4, and Oct-4 in EpiSCs, [34] until somitogenesis and can be reversed midway through induced expression of Oct-4. [35]


Hematopoietic stem cells are an example of multipotency. When they differentiate into myeloid or lymphoid progenitor cells, they lose potency and become oligopotent cells with the ability to give rise to all cells of its lineage. Hematopoiesis (human) diagram en.svg
Hematopoietic stem cells are an example of multipotency. When they differentiate into myeloid or lymphoid progenitor cells, they lose potency and become oligopotent cells with the ability to give rise to all cells of its lineage.

Multipotency describes progenitor cells which have the gene activation potential to differentiate into discrete cell types. For example, a multipotent blood stem cell —and this cell type can differentiate itself into several types of blood cell types like lymphocytes, monocytes, neutrophils, etc., but it is still ambiguous whether HSC possess the ability to differentiate into brain cells, bone cells or other non-blood cell types.[ citation needed ]

New research related to multipotent cells suggests that multipotent cells may be capable of conversion into unrelated cell types. In another case, human umbilical cord blood stem cells were converted into human neurons. [36] Research is also focusing on converting multipotent cells into pluripotent cells. [37]

Multipotent cells are found in many, but not all human cell types. Multipotent cells have been found in cord blood, [38] adipose tissue, [39] cardiac cells, [40] bone marrow, and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) which are found in the third molar. [41]

MSCs may prove to be a valuable source for stem cells from molars at 8–10 years of age, before adult dental calcification. MSCs can differentiate into osteoblasts, chondrocytes, and adipocytes. [42]


In biology, oligopotency is the ability of progenitor cells to differentiate into a few cell types. It is a degree of potency. Examples of oligopotent stem cells are the lymphoid or myeloid stem cells. [2] A lymphoid cell specifically, can give rise to various blood cells such as B and T cells, however, not to a different blood cell type like a red blood cell. [43] Examples of progenitor cells are vascular stem cells that have the capacity to become both endothelial or smooth muscle cells.


In cell biology, a unipotent cell is the concept that one stem cell has the capacity to differentiate into only one cell type. It is currently unclear if true unipotent stem cells exist. Hepatoblasts, which differentiate into hepatocytes (which constitute most of the liver) or cholangiocytes (epithelial cells of the bile duct), are bipotent. [44] A close synonym for unipotent cell is precursor cell.

See also

Related Research Articles

Human cloning

Human cloning is the creation of a genetically identical copy of a human. The term is generally used to refer to artificial human cloning, which is the reproduction of human cells and tissue. It does not refer to the natural conception and delivery of identical twins. The possibility of human cloning has raised controversies. These ethical concerns have prompted several nations to pass laws regarding human cloning and its legality.

Stem cell undifferentiated biological cells that can differentiate into specialized cells

Stem cells are cells that can differentiate into other types of cells, and can also divide in self-renewal to produce more of the same type of stem cells.

Transdifferentiation, also known as lineage reprogramming, is a process in which one mature somatic cell transforms into another mature somatic cell without undergoing an intermediate pluripotent state or progenitor cell type. It is a type of metaplasia, which includes all cell fate switches, including the interconversion of stem cells. Current uses of transdifferentiation include disease modeling and drug discovery and in the future may include gene therapy and regenerative medicine. The term 'transdifferentiation' was originally coined by Selman and Kafatos in 1974 to describe a change in cell properties as cuticle producing cells became salt-secreting cells in silk moths undergoing metamorphosis.

Somatic cell nuclear transfer

In genetics and developmental biology, somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) is a laboratory strategy for creating a viable embryo from a body cell and an egg cell. The technique consists of taking an enucleated oocyte and implanting a donor nucleus from a somatic (body) cell. It is used in both therapeutic and reproductive cloning. Dolly the Sheep became famous for being the first successful case of the reproductive cloning of a mammal. In January 2018, a team of scientists in Shanghai announced the successful cloning of two female crab-eating macaques from fetal nuclei. "Therapeutic cloning" refers to the potential use of SCNT in regenerative medicine; this approach has been championed as an answer to the many issues concerning embryonic stem cells (ESC) and the destruction of viable embryos for medical use, though questions remain on how homologous the two cell types truly are.

Germ cell Type of biological cell

A germ cell is any biological cell that gives rise to the gametes of an organism that reproduces sexually. In many animals, the germ cells originate in the primitive streak and migrate via the gut of an embryo to the developing gonads. There, they undergo meiosis, followed by cellular differentiation into mature gametes, either eggs or sperm. Unlike animals, plants do not have germ cells designated in early development. Instead, germ cells can arise from somatic cells in the adult.

Embryonic stem cell pluripotent stem cells derived from the inner cell mass of blastocysts

Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent stem cells derived from the inner cell mass of a blastocyst, an early-stage pre-implantation embryo. Human embryos reach the blastocyst stage 4–5 days post fertilization, at which time they consist of 50–150 cells. Isolating the embryoblast, or inner cell mass (ICM) results in destruction of the blastocyst, a process which raises ethical issues, including whether or not embryos at the pre-implantation stage should have the same moral considerations as embryos in the post-implantation stage of development. Researchers are currently focusing heavily on the therapeutic potential of embryonic stem cells, with clinical use being the goal for many labs. Potential uses include the treatment of diabetes and heart disease. The cells are being studied to be used as clinical therapies, models of genetic disorders, and cellular/DNA repair. However, adverse effects in the research and clinical processes such as tumours and unwanted immune responses have also been reported.

Embryoid body three-dimensional aggregate of pluripotent stem cells

Embryoid bodies (EBs) are three-dimensional aggregates of pluripotent stem cells. The pluripotent cell types that comprise embryoid bodies include embryonic stem cells (ESCs) derived from the blastocyst stage of embryos from mouse (mESC), primate, and human (hESC) sources. Additionally, EBs can be formed from embryonic stem cells derived through alternative techniques, including somatic cell nuclear transfer or the reprogramming of somatic cells to yield induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS). Similar to ESCs cultured in monolayer formats, ESCs within embryoid bodies undergo differentiation and cell specification along the three germ lineages – endoderm, ectoderm, and mesoderm – which comprise all somatic cell types.

Oct-4 protein-coding gene in the species Homo sapiens

Oct-4, also known as POU5F1, is a protein that in humans is encoded by the POU5F1 gene. Oct-4 is a homeodomain transcription factor of the POU family. It is critically involved in the self-renewal of undifferentiated embryonic stem cells. As such, it is frequently used as a marker for undifferentiated cells. Oct-4 expression must be closely regulated; too much or too little will cause differentiation of the cells.

Gametogonium are stem cells for gametes located within the gonads. They originate from primordial germ cells, which have migrated to the gonads. Male gametogonia which are located within the testes during development and adulthood are called spermatogonium. Female gametogonia, known as oogonium, are found within the ovaries of the developing foetus and were thought to be depleted at or after birth. Spermatogonia and oogonia are classified as sexually differentiated germ cells.

Homeobox protein NANOG protein-coding gene in the species Homo sapiens

Homeobox protein NANOG is a transcriptional factor that helps embryonic stem cells (ESCs) maintain pluripotency by suppressing cell determination factors. Therefore NANOG deletion will trigger differentiation of ESCs. There are many different types of cancer that are associated with NANOG. In humans, this protein is encoded by the NANOG gene.

A stem cell line is a group of stem cells that is cultured in vitro and can be propagated indefinitely. Stem cell lines are derived from either animal or human tissues and come from one of three sources: embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells, or induced stem cells. They are commonly used in research and regenerative medicine.

In biology, reprogramming refers to erasure and remodeling of epigenetic marks, such as DNA methylation, during mammalian development or in cell culture. Such control is also often associated with alternative covalent modifications of histones.

Induced pluripotent stem cell

Induced pluripotent stem cells are a type of pluripotent stem cell that can be generated directly from adult cells. The iPSC technology was pioneered by Shinya Yamanaka’s lab in Kyoto, Japan, who showed in 2006 that the introduction of four specific genes encoding transcription factors could convert adult cells into pluripotent stem cells. He was awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize along with Sir John Gurdon "for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent."

Shinya Yamanaka stem cell researcher

Shinya Yamanaka is a Japanese Nobel Prize-winning stem cell researcher. He serves as the director of Center for iPS Cell Research and Application and a professor at the Institute for Frontier Medical Sciences at Kyoto University; as a senior investigator at the UCSF-affiliated J. David Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco, California; and as a professor of anatomy at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Yamanaka is also a past president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR).

A mesenchymal–epithelial transition (MET) is a reversible biological process that involves the transition from motile, multipolar or spindle-shaped mesenchymal cells to planar arrays of polarized cells called epithelia. MET is the reverse process of epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT). Unlike epithelial cells – which are stationary and characterized by an apical-basal polarity, tight junctions, and expression of cell-cell adhesion markers such as E-cadherin, mesenchymal cells do not make mature cell-cell contacts, can invade through the extracellular matrix, and express markers such as vimentin, fibronectin, N-cadherin, Twist, and Snail. METs occur in normal development, cancer metastasis, and induced pluripotent stem cell reprogramming.

Induced stem cells (iSC) are stem cells derived from somatic, reproductive, pluripotent or other cell types by deliberate epigenetic reprogramming. They are classified as either totipotent (iTC), pluripotent (iPSC) or progenitor or unipotent – (iUSC) according to their developmental potential and degree of dedifferentiation. Progenitors are obtained by so-called direct reprogramming or directed differentiation and are also called induced somatic stem cells.

A Muse cell is an endogenous non-cancerous pluripotent stem cell. They reside in the connective tissue of nearly every organ, bone marrow and peripheral blood. They are collectable from commercially obtainable mesenchymal cells such as human fibroblasts, bone marrow-mesenchymal stem cells and adipose-derived stem cells. Muse cells are able to generate cells representative of all three germ layers from a single cell both spontaneously and under cytokine induction. Expression of pluripotency genes and triploblastic differentiation are self-renewable over generations. Muse cells do not undergo teratoma formation when transplanted into a host environment in vivo. This can be explained in part by their intrinsically low telomerase activity, eradicating the risk of tumorigenesis through unbridled cell proliferation. They were discovered in 2010 by Mari Dezawa and her research group. An exploratory clinical trial has been started in January 2018, by Life Science Institute, Inc., a group company of Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings company.

Directed differentiation is a bioengineering methodology at the interface of stem cell biology, developmental biology and tissue engineering. It is essentially harnessing the potential of stem cells by constraining their differentiation in vitro toward a specific cell type or tissue of interest. Stem cells are by definition pluripotent, able to differentiate into several cell types such as neurons, cardiomyocytes, hepatocytes, etc. Efficient directed differentiation requires a detailed understanding of the lineage and cell fate decision, often provided by developmental biology.

After the blastocyst stage, once an embryo implanted in endometrium, the inner cell mass (ICM) of a fertilized embryo segregates into two layers: hypoblast and epiblast. The epiblast cells are the functional progenitors of soma and germ cells which later differentiate into three layers: definitive endoderm, mesoderm and ectoderm. Stem cells derived from epiblast are pluripotent. These cells are called epiblast-derived stem cells (EpiSC) and have several different cellular and molecular characteristics with Embryonic Stem Cells (ESC). Pluripotency in EpiSC is essentially different from that of embryonic stem cells. The pluripotency of EpiSC is primed pluripotency: primed to differentiate into specific cell linages. Naïve pluripotent stem cells and primed pluripotent stem cells not only sustain the ability to self-renew but also maintain the capacity to differentiate. Since the cell status is primed to differentiate in EpiSC, however, one copy of the X chromosome in XX cells in EpiSC is silenced (XaXi). EpiSC is unable to colonize and is not available to be used to produce chimeras. Conversely, XX cells in ESC are both active and can produce chimera when inserted into a blastocyst. Both ESC and EpiSC induce teratoma when injected in the test animals which proves pluripotency. EpiSC display several distinctive characteristics distinct from ESC. The celluar status of human ESC (hESC) is similar to primed state mouse stem cells rather than Naïve state.


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