, Volume 3, Issue 5, pp 329-345
Date: 31 Mar 2012

Delineating nuclear reprogramming

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Abstract

Nuclear reprogramming is described as a molecular switch, triggered by the conversion of one cell type to another. Several key experiments in the past century have provided insight into the field of nuclear reprogramming. Previously deemed impossible, this research area is now brimming with new findings and developments. In this review, we aim to give a historical perspective on how the notion of nuclear reprogramming was established, describing main experiments that were performed, including (1) somatic cell nuclear transfer, (2) exposure to cell extracts and cell fusion, and (3) transcription factor induced lineage switch. Ultimately, we focus on (4) transcription factor induced pluripotency, as initiated by a landmark discovery in 2006, where the process of converting somatic cells to a pluripotent state was narrowed down to four transcription factors. The conception that somatic cells possess the capacity to revert to an immature status brings about huge clinical implications including personalized therapy, drug screening and disease modeling. Although this technology has potential to revolutionize the medical field, it is still impeded by technical and biological obstacles. This review describes the effervescent changes in this field, addresses bottlenecks hindering its advancement and in conclusion, applies the latest findings to overcome these issues.