Pluripotency pertains to the cells of early embryos that can generate all of the tissues in the organism. Embryonic stem cells are embryo-derived cell lines that retain pluripotency and represent invaluable tools for research into the mechanisms of tissue formation. Recently, murine fibroblasts have been reprogrammed directly to pluripotency by ectopic expression of four transcription factors (Oct4, Sox2, Klf4 and Myc) to yield induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. Using these same factors, we have derived iPS cells from fetal, neonatal and adult human primary cells, including dermal fibroblasts isolated from a skin biopsy of a healthy research subject. Human iPS cells resemble embryonic stem cells in morphology and gene expression and in the capacity to form teratomas in immune-deficient mice. These data demonstrate that defined factors can reprogramme human cells to pluripotency, and establish a method whereby patient-specific cells might be established in culture.
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