Sequential introduction of the proteins known to reprogram cells back to a pluripotent, embryonic-like state leads to a greater number of cells being reprogrammed than when using a simultaneous introduction method, as is currently used by researchers. This discovery, reported this week in Nature Cell Biology, provides a technique for further optimizing the reprogramming of somatic cells to induced pluripotent stem cells.
Improving the efficiency of reprogramming somatic cells to induced pluripotent stem cells is highly beneficial to researchers using reprogrammed cells to analyse how defects characteristic of a variety of diseases appear in cells in the laboratory or to test the potential of drugs to cure these defects. Duanqing Pei and colleagues report that the sequential introduction of reprogramming proteins outperforms simultaneous introduction. The increase in efficiency was observed both for mouse and human differentiated cells. The authors found that the successive expression of reprogramming factors promotes the cells to adopt mesenchymal characteristics before going through an epithelial state and finally reaching pluripotency.