Tools to selectively drive the expression of genes in pluripotent stem cells while leaving differentiated cells untouched are reported online this week in Nature Methods.
Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) are made by reprogramming mature cells; they have the potential to differentiate into different mature cell types, but the process of reprogramming is very inefficient.
James Ellis and colleagues describe how virus-derived vectors that drive gene expression exclusively in iPS cells improve the selection of iPS cells. The authors use these vectors to impart antibiotic resistance to emerging iPS cells by driving the expression of an antibiotic resistance gene. Ellis and colleagues derive mouse and human iPS cells modeled for the neurodevelopmental disorder Rett syndrome. This new method will prove useful for studying diseases in the laboratory since it simplifies the isolation of both mouse and human iPS cell lines.
The approach is likely to be particularly useful for making test tube models of diseases, where iPS cells are derived by reprogramming cells of patients with a particular disorder.