Progress made in the reprogramming field: new factors, new strategies and a new outlook

Samer M I Hussein, Andras A Nagy
Current Opinion in Genetics & Development 2012, 22 (5): 435-43
The ground-breaking work of Yamanaka and Thomson showed that forced expression of just four transcription factors can reprogram mouse and human somatic cells to pluripotency, leading to the discovery of the so-called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Similar to embryonic stem cells (ESCs), iPSCs have the ability to permanently self-renew and also give rise to multiple cell types once differentiated. These cells opened up the opportunity to develop human disease models in vitro, drug and toxicity screening tools, as well as a continuous autologous cell source for future cell-based therapies. Therefore, it is not surprising that the methods for generating iPSCs have significantly evolved over the past few years. To date the reprogramming methods include the use of various transfection/transduction systems, small molecules to enhance the reprogramming process, and to adapt to a multitude of different cell type sources. We are now able to convert essentially any somatic cell type into iPSCs with increased efficiency and at higher quality when compared to ESCs. More recently, this field has been expanded to direct reprogramming of one cell type to another, including lineage-specific progenitors. Here, we provide a concise review of methods to generate induced pluripotent stem cells, and discuss the most recent strategies augmenting the reprogramming process and increasing the quality of iPSCs.

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