Caister Academic Press

The Epigenetic Basis of Cell-Fate Specification and Reprogramming

Hongchang Cui
from: Epigenetics: A Reference Manual (Edited by: Jeffrey M. Craig and Nicholas C. Wong). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2011)

Abstract

Cell-fate specification and stem-cell renewal are fundamental processes in the development of multicellular organisms. In both animals and plants, a key role for transcription factors in these processes has been established, but an accumulating body of evidence indicates that epigenetic regulation also plays a critical role. Once regarded as stable marks, all epigenetic modifications, including DNA and histone methylation, are now known to be reversible, and a cohort of enzymes that add or erase epigenetic marks has been identified. Throughout the life of an organism, the epigenome is dynamically modified, leading in turn to transcriptional changes and ultimately cell-fate specification. Here, I review the recent literature that has shaped this view. Plants are unique among complex organisms in having the ability to generate a whole new organism from a single differentiated cell. How plant cells retain this amazing capability while maintaining their cell identity is a mystery. I introduce a model system for study of cell-fate specification, stem-cell renewal, and reprogramming read more ...
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