External stressors reprogramming somatic to pluripotent cells

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A new means of reprogramming somatic cells into pluripotent cells has been recently published by Obocata et al. in Nature. The method is called stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) and, in contrast to previous methods; it does not require nuclear transfer or genetic manipulation. Rather, STAP involves exposure of the cells to an external stressor such as a transient low-pH, which results in the generation of pluripotent cells. Committed somatic cells were found to give rise to STAP cells by reprogramming rather than selection. According to the evidence presented in this study, epigenetic changes secondary to the strong environmental cues appear to be crucial in this process.

Stimulus-triggered fate conversion of somatic cells into pluripotency. Obokata H et al. Nature. 2014 Jan 30;505(7485):641-7. PMID: 24476887

Posted by Yannis Trakadis, MD

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