Living in a gated community – how stem cells preserve their identity

Snapshot of a t-sne plot showing all genes differentially expressed between ES cells and cells 24 hours after the onset of differentiation. Red dots indicate genes down-regulated during differentiation, blue dots indicate genes up-regulated during differentiation. Large red dots are known naïve pluripotency specific transcription factor encoding genes. ©Martin Leeb

Snapshot of a t-sne plot showing all genes differentially expressed between ES cells and cells 24 hours after the onset of differentiation. Red dots indicate genes down-regulated during differentiation, blue dots indicate genes up-regulated during differentiation. Large red dots are known naïve pluripotency specific transcription factor encoding genes. ©Martin Leeb

Pluripotent stem cells can give rise to all the different types of specialized cells in the adult organism. Scientists led by Martin Leeb have identified hundreds of genes involved in the exit from naïve pluripotency and show that their activity is largely confined to five key signaling pathways. Their study, published in the EMBO Journal, provides a comprehensive map of the genetic circuits that gate this fundamental cell state transition.

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