Transcriptional control of embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells
Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) have the potential to generate virtually any cell type or tissue type in the body. This remarkable plasticity has yielded great interest in using these cells to understand early development and in treating human disease. In an effort to understand the basis of ESC pluripotency, genetic and genomic studies have revealed transcriptional regulatory circuitry that maintains the pluripotent cell state and poises the genome for downstream activation. Critical components of this circuitry include ESC transcription factors, chromatin regulators, histone modifications, signaling molecules and regulatory RNAs. This article will focus on our current understanding of these components and how they influence ESC and induced pluripotent stem cell states. Emerging themes include regulation of the pluripotent genome by a core set of transcription factors, transcriptional poising of developmental genes by chromatin regulatory complexes and the establishment of multiple layers of repression at key genomic loci.
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