Reprogramming and differentiation in mammals: motifs and mechanisms.

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Cell-Differentiation, Embryonic-Stem-Cells, Female, Gene-Expression-Regulation-Developmental, Male, Mammals, Ovum, Pluripotent-Stem-Cells, Pregnancy, RNA-Messenger, Spermatozoa, Totipotent-Stem-Cells

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Cold Spring Harb Symp Quant Biol 2008; 73:33-8.


The natural reprogramming of the mammalian egg and sperm genomes is an efficient process that takes place in less than 24 hours and gives rise to a totipotent zygote. Transfer of somatic nuclei to mammalian oocytes also leads to their reprogramming and formation of totipotent embryos, albeit very inefficiently and requiring an activation step. Reprogramming of differentiated cells to induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells takes place during a period of time substantially longer than reprogramming of the egg and sperm nuclei and is significantly less efficient. The stochastic expression of endogenous proteins during this process would imply that controlled expression of specific proteins is crucial for reprogramming to take place. The fact that OCT4, NANOG, and SOX2 form the core components of the pluripotency circuitry would imply that control at the transcriptional level is important for reprogramming to iPS cells. In contradistinction, the much more efficient reprogramming of the mammalian egg and sperm genomes implies that other levels of control are necessary, such as chromatin remodeling, translational regulation, and efficient degradation of no longer needed proteins and RNAs.